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Want to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement

The Hill logo The Hill 7/27/2021 Stephen Moore, opinion contributor
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Want to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement © Getty Images Want to improve vaccine rates? Ask for this endorsement

If the history books get the story of COVID-19 right - which is doubtful - then former President Donald Trump, despite some of the mistakes made early on, will receive high praise for his policies to combat a killer pandemic.

Hundreds of thousands of lives in the U.S. and perhaps millions more abroad have been saved because of Operation Warp Speed, one of the most successful government initiatives in the last half-century. It also is an achievement that almost no one - especially Trump's critics - believed was possible in such a short period of time.

When Trump announced from the White House last year that we would have a life-saving vaccine on the market in 10 months, he was laughed at and accused of pie-in-the-sky predictions. There were too many regulatory hurdles and production obstacles, and too many other government roadblocks to drug and vaccine development, to possibly have a vaccine on the market in less than a year. And the media agreed it wasn't possible.

They were wrong. Trump succeeded not by launching a massive government program - as President Biden surely would have done - but by allowing private companies like Pfizer and Moderna to take the lead and pull an end-run around the lengthy trials, efficacy requirements and other delays that delay new drug development and lead to more deaths, not fewer.

Now we have the vaccine widely available, and death rates here have fallen by 90 percent from the pandemic. Biden has shamelessly tried to snatch away the credit for the vaccine, but it already was being distributed a month before he took office.

Biden was one of the many Trump critics who said the vaccine couldn't be available quickly and, even if it was, as he put it, "I don't trust Donald Trump."

Then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), now the vice president, said the same thing in an infamous moment in her debate in October against then-Vice President Mike Pence. She told the American people that we couldn't trust Donald Trump's word on the vaccine. So did many Democratic governors, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.).

Now here we are, seven months later, and these same voices can't understand why so many Republican voters aren't getting jabbed with the vaccine.

What the press isn't reporting is that, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis: "Across 40 states, the percent of White people who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose (48 percent) was roughly 1.3 times higher than the rate for Black people (36 percent) and higher than the rate for Hispanic people (41 percent) as of July 19, 2021."

But it is also true that rural and working-class conservatives are also suspect of the vaccine that Biden is badgering them to take. Politico recently reported that "in Alabama and Louisiana, partisan opposition to the vaccine is surging." Politico explains that many Trump voters are turning down the vaccine because they are "sick of Democrats thinking they know what's best." (Who isn't?)

Democrats and the media continue to make things worse by self-righteously sneering at Republican voters for not trusting "the science." But the political left has so hyper-politicized that term that it now has the OPPOSITE effect of what is intended. Whenever the left uses the term "settled science," what they mean is the policies that THEY agree with - and which very often are later proven to be dead wrong. Just look at how often the infallible Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been inaccurate.

And by the way, why was it acceptable for liberals to not trust the vaccine when Trump was president, but now conservatives are "deplorables" for not trusting Biden on the vaccine?

If people don't want to take the vaccine, that is, of course, their choice, and they shouldn't be bullied into taking it. A person who doesn't take the vaccine poses almost no risk to anyone who HAS taken the vaccine. This is a matter of individual freedom and personal choice, period. To borrow a phrase from the left, "My body, my vote." Skeptics are also correct that we don't know with certainty if there are long-term negative effects from the vaccine.

But we do know the vaccine is proving to be highly successful at reducing infections and deaths - with low rates of negative side-effects - so potentially tens of thousands of lives could be saved by a greater rate of vaccination.

Trump may be the only person who could raise the vaccination rate among middle class white skeptics.

This is why, for the sake of the country and our fellow citizens, Trump should give a national prime time address urging his supporters and voters to get the shot, especially because of the Delta variant that is still causing a new spike in sickness and, in some cases, death. To make this plea as effective as possible, Biden should publicly invite Trump to the White House to do so - a rare sign of bipartisan unity.

Would Biden do this? I suspect that his team's hatred of Trump far exceeds their desire to save tens of thousands of lives. But, hopefully, I am wrong about that.

Stephen Moore is a co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity and a senior fellow at Freedom Works. He was a member of President Trump's economic recovery task force and an economic adviser to the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.


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