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Trump urges people to get COVID vaccine, saying it's safe and works

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Former President Trump again urged people to be vaccinated against COVID-19, saying he would recommend vaccination to "a lot of people that don't want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me." In an interview Tuesday night on Fox News, Mr. Trump acknowledged that people were free to decide for themselves whether they would be vaccinated against the virus.

"We have our freedoms and we have to live by that and I agree with that also. But it is a great vaccine. It is a safe vaccine and it is something that works," he said.

Mr. Trump has promoted the vaccination before. When he appeared Feb. 28 at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, he said, "Everybody, go get your shot."

But public health experts have expressed concern that many Americans' reluctance to do so could significantly hinder virus fighting efforts overall.

Mr. Trump and former first lady Melania Trump got vaccinated privately at the White House in January, while other top GOP officials, including Vice President Pence, got the shot on television in a public show of support. Mr. Trump hasn't publicly mentioned that he was inoculated.

Every living former U.S. president except Mr. Trump participated in a recent vaccination public service announcement.

And while a majority of Americans – 55 percent – said in a recent CBS News poll they'll get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them or already have had at least one shot, 33% of Republicans said they don't plan to.

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The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said Sunday he hoped Mr. Trump would urge his followers to get the vaccine.

"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace pointed out that according to a recent NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll, 49% of Republican men said they don't intend to get it. 

Fauci told Wallace "it would make all the difference in the world" if the former president led a campaign to urge Republicans to get vaccinated.

"He's a very widely popular person among Republicans," Fauci said. "If he came out and said, 'Go and get vaccinated. It's really important for your health, the health of your family and the health of the country,' it seems absolutely inevitable that the vast majority of people who are his close followers would listen to him."

Fauci added that he's very surprised that a high percentage of Republicans are avoiding the vaccine, saying he doesn't understand why. 

"This isn't a political issue, this is a public health issue," he said.

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