HHS secretary: ‘A lot of folks would listen’ if Trump made vaccine PSA

Becerra’s remarks come after Biden announced last week that his administration had achieved its target of 200 million coronavirus vaccinations during his first 100 days in office, with the U.S. entering “a new phase” of its campaign to inoculate Americans against Covid-19.

As the shot becomes available across the country to U.S. adults 16 and older, vaccine supply is beginning to outpace demand. And although last month’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package included a tax credit designed to hasten vaccination among workers, polling shows a significant number of Republicans and younger, white Americans in rural communities are still vaccine-hesitant.

White House officials have largely avoided invoking Trump as they seek to build confidence around the vaccine, emphasizing the persuasiveness of local health care providers, faith leaders and others involved with the administration’s Covid-19 Community Corps.

Responding to a request for comment on Becerra’s remarks, Trump spokesperson Jason Miller did not address the subject of a potential PSA, instead criticizing “the bureaucrats at the FDA and the CDC” and asserting that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris “have only themselves to blame” for any vaccine hesitancy.

Trump’s former aides have recently expressed frustration that the former president was not more vocal about promoting the vaccine toward the end of his term, arguing that he squandered what could have been a legacy-defining achievement. On Tuesday, CNN reported that his advisers have urged him to make a PSA.

Trump, who was vaccinated privately at the White House in January and did not announce that he had received the shot, has offered only passing endorsements of the vaccine in interviews since leaving office.

Earlier this month, after U.S. regulators temporarily paused the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Trump seemed dismissive of the prospect of shooting a PSA. He said he would “certainly do it,” but offered no firm commitment.

“They all want me to do a commercial because a lot of our people don’t want to take vaccine. You know, I don’t know what that is exactly, Republican?” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “They want me to do a commercial, some commercial, and they do this pause?”

Donald and Melania Trump were the only living former president and first lady to not appear in a vaccine PSA last month that featured Barack and Michelle Obama, George W. and Laura Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter receiving their shots. Another PSA, filmed at Arlington National Cemetery, showed former Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton encouraging Americans to get vaccinated.