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Former Presidents Obama, Clinton and Bush say they'd take COVID-19 vaccine on camera to promote its safety

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Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton plan to take a coronavirus vaccine on camera to raise confidence in its safety. 

Mr. Obama said in an interview excerpt on Sirius XM  released Wednesday that if the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told him the vaccine was safe, he would believe him and signaled that he'd take it himself. 

"So, if Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, immunize you from getting COVID," he said. "Absolutely, I'm going to take it." 

"I promise you that when it's been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it," he said. "I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science, and what I don't trust is getting COVID." 

Two of his living predecessors said they would do so as well. Clinton's spokesperson Angel Ureña told CBS News in a statement Thursday that Mr. Clinton would take part. 

"President Clinton will definitely take a vaccine as soon as available to him, based on the priorities determined by public health officials. And he will do it in a public setting if it will help urge all Americans to do the same," Ureña said. 

Freddy Ford, Bush's chief of staff, said to CNN that the 43rd president told Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, both members of the White House coronavirus task force, weeks ago that he would take the vaccine on camera after it was deemed safe and administered to priority populations. CBS News confirmed his remarks. 

Ivanka Trump, President Trump's daughter and one of his senior White House advisers, tweeted her praise of the former presidents to "assure the public that the vaccine is safe and effective." She offered to do the same. 

CBS News reached out to former President Jimmy Carter, but did not immediately receive a response.

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On an episode of  this week's "The Takeout" podcast, Fauci, told CBS News' Major Garrett that he would also take the vaccine on camera and "as soon as my turn comes up." 

The pledges to take the vaccine come as Fauci stressed the importance of having an "overwhelming majority" of Americans take it in order to suppress spread of the virus, which has killed more than 274,000 people in the U.S. and forced 100,000 coronavirus hospitalizations around the country.  

The most recent polling by Gallup showed 58% of Americans would take the vaccine, a jump from 50% in September. But that poll was conducted in October, before vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer unveiled their promising final trial results last month.

Gillian Morley contributed to this report. 

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