Former President Donald Trump experienced something new during his rally in Mobile, Alabama, Saturday night: He was briefly booed.
That never happens when Trump speaks to gatherings of his loyal followers. Yet the boos came Saturday when he urged those in the crowd not yet vaccinated to get protected against COVID-19.
"You know what? I believe totally in your freedoms," Trump told the crowd. "You got to do what you have to do, but I recommend: Take the vaccines. I did it — it's good."
That his request received a negative response from many in the audience is indicative of how entrenched the opposition is to the vaccine among some groups.
About 90 million Americans have not taken the shots, which are 95% effective in preventing the deadly virus. Their hesitancy is contributing to the new surge in COVID cases.
A study by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University found vaccination resistance is highest in counties where a majority of voters supported Trump in the 2020 election. Also among the laggards are African Americans and those 18-24 years old.
The latter group is chronically resistant to preventative medical measures. Trump backers and Blacks, according to the study, don't trust the government.
But as Trump reminded the crowd in Alabama, he was the head of the government when the COVID vaccines were developed, and is largely responsible for the initiative that enabled their creation on a record timetable.
Trump authorized Operation Warp Speed, the $10 billion public/private partnership to spur development and production of vaccines and bust through regulatory barriers.
Its success is the signature accomplishment of his presidency.
So those who believe Trump to be among the greatest of American presidents should honor his legacy by rolling up their sleeves.
Vaccination hesitancy is waning, according to the Pittsburgh/Mellon study. The emergence of the more potent delta variant of the virus has pushed many of the formerly reluctant to take the shots.
Also, the death-bed testimony of a number of anti-vaxers who have contracted severe cases of COVID has helped spread the message.
Monday, the Food and Drug Administration gave final approval to the Pfizer vaccine, and that should ease concerns about its safety.
The vaccines have proven amazingly safe and effective. While some who are vaccinated have tested positive for COVID, their cases have been generally mild.
In that regard, the vaccines are working as promised, and perhaps even better.
Hopefully Trump will keep talking up the vaccine to those who have placed their trust in him.
Saturday he said, "... I happen to take the vaccine. If it doesn't work, you'll be the first to know. I'll call Alabama say, 'Hey you know what?' But it is working."
It is working, and that's a message to cheer. It will work even better if vaccination rates can push much closer to 100%.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.