WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden says he is mystified about continuing opposition by some Americans to getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, particularly among Republicans who opposed his election.
“I honest to God thought that, once we guaranteed we had enough vaccine for everybody, things would start to calm down,” Biden told ABC News on Tuesday. “Well, they have calmed down a great deal.”
Still, Biden told ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos, “I don’t quite understand – you know – I just don’t understand this sort of macho thing about, ‘I’m not gonna get the vaccine. I have a right as an American, my freedom to not do it.’
“Well, why don’t you be a patriot? Protect other people,” Biden said.
Biden, who was inoculated before his inauguration two months ago, said getting vaccinated let him show Americans it is safe and also was personally satisfying “because I can hug my grandkids now.”
“They come over to the house,” the president said. “I can see them. I’m able to be with them.”
More than 35 million Americans are fully vaccinated, about 13% of adult Americans. Former President Donald Trump and his wife Melania were both vaccinated before he left office.
On Tuesday, Trump told Fox News, “I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly.”
However, he added, “But you know, again, we have our freedoms, and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s top medical adviser and the country’s top infectious-disease expert, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” show last Sunday that anyone’s reluctance to getting vaccinated was “disturbing” and makes “absolutely no sense.”
Three recent national polls showed that Republicans who voted for Trump were far more reluctant to get vaccinated than Democrats who supported Biden.
A recent NPR/PBS/Marist poll found that 47% of Trump voters and 41% of Republicans said they will not get a shot when eligible.
A CBS News poll in recent days found 33% of Republicans won’t get inoculated when it becomes available to them, while just 10% of Democrats took the same view. A Monmouth University found 59% of Republicans were either hesitant to get vaccinated or said they would likely never get inoculated. By contrast, 23% of Democrats felt the same way.
Fauci called the political split on vaccinations baffling.
“It makes absolutely no sense,” he said. “We’ve got to dissociate political persuasion from what’s common sense, no-brainer, public health things.”