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Three former US presidents pledge to get COVID-19 vaccine publicly

WASHINGTON: Former United States presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton have volunteered to have their COVID-19 vaccinations be publicly televised.

The trio of two Democrats and one Republican said they would get the jab once it has been approved by regulators and recommended by US health officials.

The move is intended to boost public confidence in the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines. Polls indicate large swathes of the US public are reluctant to get the vaccine. No vaccination has yet been approved in the US, but government regulators will be examining Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines in the coming weeks.

Former President Barack Obama said during a radio episode show. “I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it.” He added “I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed,” Obama added, “just so that people know that I trust this science.”

Representatives for Bush and Clinton said that the former presidents – who have banded together in the past – pledged to take the vaccine “as soon as available” to them and urged all Americans to do the same.

Former President Bill Clinton would definitely be willing to get a vaccine, as soon as one is “available to him based on the priorities determined by public health officials,” spokesman Angel Urena said.

READ MORE: Obama slams Trump’s handling of coronavirus crisis

The only other living former president, Jimmy Carter, who at 96 is the oldest ex-president in US history, also encouraged people to get vaccinated, but stopped short of pledging to do so himself in public.

President Donald Trump was asked this summer if he would consider being the first to take the vaccine to send a message that it was safe. The president said that going first could also lead to accusations that he was being selfish but that he would take it if recommended.

President-elect Joe Biden said during an interview on Thursday that he too would be happy to get his vaccine publicly to encourage people to follow suit.

“People have lost faith in the ability of the vaccine to work,” Biden said. “Already the numbers are really staggeringly low, and it matters what the president and vice president do.”

Biden has warned that the spread of the coronavirus pandemic over the next two months could kill as many as 250,000 more people.