PHOENIX, AZ – At his first rally in the state of Arizona since the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump encouraged his followers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in light of recent surges in infections due to the new Delta variant, but nonetheless told them that they also have the freedom to decide for themselves what to do.
Speaking in Phoenix at a Turning Point Action gathering, Trump initially told his supporters “How about the vaccine? I came up with the vaccine,” which made it appear that he was taking credit for the actual development of the vaccine.
However, what Trump can indeed take credit for is the program known as Operation Warp Speed, a public–private partnership initiated by the United States government to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines; presumably, this is what he was referring to.
However, Trump quickly pivoted to extolling the virtues of the vaccine, and told attendees at the rally that it’s probably a good idea that they get it, but emphasized it’s ultimately their choice.
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“They said it would take 3 to 5 years, [it’s] going to save the world,” he said. “I recommend you take it, but I also believe in your freedoms 100 percent, but just so you understand… but it was a great achievement.”
Currently, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 163.6 million Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or 49.3 percent of the population. Currently, the country is experiencing a swell of new infections due to the new Delta variant, which is proving to be more contagious and potent than the original strain, and now accounts for 83 percent of all new COVID cases in the U.S.
The CDC on Tuesday changed its mask guidance to now recommend everyone in areas with high levels of COVID-19 transmission – vaccinated or not – wear a face covering in public, indoor settings.