Former President Donald Trump signs an executive order on vaccine distribution at an Operation Warp Speed event on December 8, 2020.Tom Brenner/Reuters
Former President Donald Trump confronted a crowd of supporters over vaccine skepticism.
Trump told his fans to “take credit” for the vaccines instead of being against them.
“You’re playing right into their hands,” he said during his tour with Bill O’Reilly.
Former President Donald Trump urged his supporters on Sunday to get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves against the Omicron variant, telling them they’re “playing right into their hands” by doubting the vaccines.
Sitting alongside former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly at a stadium in Dallas, Trump touted his administration’s contribution towards developing the vaccines as part of Operation Warp Speed.
“Look, we did something that was historic,” he said. “We saved tens of millions of lives worldwide. We, together, all of us, not me.”
He went on to say that absent the vaccine, millions more people would have died of the virus. “I think this would have been the Spanish Flu of 1917, where up to 100 million people died,” he said. “This was going to ravage the country far beyond what it is right now.”
He then urged his supporters to “take credit” for the vaccine, warning them to not “let them take it away.”
“You’re playing right into their hands when you sort of, like, ‘oh, the vaccine,'” he said, referring to those of his supporters who have expressed hesitancy or opposition to the vaccine. “If you don’t want to take it, you shouldn’t be forced to take it. No mandates. But take credit, because we saved tens of millions of lives.”
The former president went on to declare that he had gotten a booster shot himself, eliciting booing and jeering from the audience.
“Don’t, don’t, don’t,” Trump said of the booers. “That’s all right. It’s a very tiny group up there.”
Trump’s comments mark a reversal from just months ago, when he told the Wall Street Journal that he was unlikely to get a booster shot.
“I feel like I’m in good shape from that standpoint—I probably won’t,” he told the paper in September. “I’ll look at stuff later on. I’m not against it, but it’s probably not for me.”
Since leaving office, Trump has been inconsistent on his vaccine messaging, largely holding off on boasting about his administration’s push to fast track the inoculations after getting booed when he promoted the shots at an Alabama event over the summer.
Trump also used to push the conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism, but began to change his tune amid Measles outbreaks in 2019.
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