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Why is Trump embracing Covid-19 vaccine now? MAGA crowd upset at his U-turn

'The vaccines work' says former President in his latest interview as he continues to push for vaccination despite angry fans booing him
UPDATED DEC 24, 2021
Donald Trump at the Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit on December 08, 2020, in Washington, DC (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Donald Trump at the Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit on December 08, 2020, in Washington, DC (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

If there's one thing Donald Trump craves, it's adoration and admiration. Throughout four years of his Presidency, Trump had no qualms about lying whether he was at a rally, or in the Oval Office because his lies won the support of the MAGA crowd. But on December 19, the former President was shocking booed on stage when he conceded to having had a booster shot of the Covid-19 vaccine. Despite the clear disapproval, Trump has gone on to promote vaccines in a clear break from his usual behavior.

The Republican Party meanwhile, firmly refuses to promote vaccines, even though many of them have been secretly jabbed. Notably, in August, Texas Governor Greg Abbott's vaccine status became public after he tested positive following a packed event in Dallas. Ironically, even Fox News has created a vaccine passport system for its employees, while it slams the idea on air for the public. The double standards have never been clearer, but Republicans still prefer to promote mouthwash and horse dewormer over an actual vaccine purely for political reasons. 


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Their leader, on the other hand, appears to have had a change of heart. While many prominent Republicans refuse to disclose their vaccine status, Trump has become quite open about his. Now, the former President is going on air to tell his followers "the vaccines work" and " if you take the vaccine, you’re protected," as he did in a December 22 interview with Candice Owens

Anti-vaccine activists during a protest against Governor Charlie Baker's mandate on August 30, 2020, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Donald Trump's u-turn on vaccines

While he's never been a prominent anti-vaxxer like some in his party, Trump has also refused to promote vaccines in public until very recently. In August 2020, he called getting a booster dose a "moneymaking operation" and cast doubts on getting one. Until January, he also kept the fact he was vaccinated hidden from the wider public, at a time when the rollout was just beginning. In March 2021, he also skipped a video featuring former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama getting jabbed. 

By and large, Trump firmly refused to promote vaccination during the dying days of his Presidency, despite knowing the power of his position. He also touted many conspiracy theories, again despite getting jabbed and not suffering any serious consequences. But more recently, he's been open about his pro-vaccine stance, despite much of his followers being quite anti-vaccine. "I’m all in favor of the vaccine," he told The New York Post in April 2021. Around the same time, he told Sean Hannity, "I encourage them to take it. I do." In December 2021, he told Owens, "the results of the vaccine are very good... People aren’t dying when they take the vaccine." 

Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on October 09, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The sharp u-turn has not gone unnoticed. Trump is now an anomaly in his own party. While Fox News continues to sow doubt and spread misinformation, Republicans like Ron DeSantis and Abbott are firmly pushing back against vaccines, and it seems to be working.

MAGA crowd moving away from Trump

It's hard to say why, but it is certainly well known by now that Trump is no longer pulling the crowds he used to. His latest tour with Bill O'Reilly has seen lackluster crowds, with many empty seats and unsold tickets. Even those that showed up though, were in no mood for Trump's pro-vaccine stance. In Dallas on December 19, when Trump admitted to getting a booster, the audience immediately jeered, leading Trump to say, "Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't."

That moment is symbolic of the GOP right now. In September, a Gallup poll found 40% of Republicans don’t plan to get vaccinated, while 23% firmly refused to get jabbed. That's a sizable chunk of the party, and more importantly Trump's base. Yet, he's stuck to his guns and is now openly promoting vaccines, at the risk of alienating a key group of voters. Even Alex Jones appears to have gotten fed up with Trump's pro-vaccine comments, as have fringe Republicans now running for office off the success of Lauren Boebart and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Does it have something to do with the fact he's no longer risking an election? Possibly, but clearly, there's another factor at play. For a man who craves and loves popularity, going against the crowd is quite out-of-character. But, with millions of dead Americans, and millions more in hospital, perhaps Trump has come to realize that health and science need to be put ahead of politics. Only he can answer why do the u-turn now, but America may certainly benefit from it. Hopefully, on his advice, more Americans can get jabbed and help end the pandemic sooner.