OP-ED: Calling Donald Trump: The vaccine effort needs you

Steven P. Grossman
The Baltimore Sun (TNS)
U.S. President Donald Trump removes his mask upon return to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 5, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)

Reports are now appearing almost daily about people rejecting COVID-19 vaccines. The failure of substantial segments of the population to get vaccinated threatens the herd immunity that the medical professionals regard as the best way to stop the spread of the virus. But there is an obvious solution.

The majority of Americans who have indicated they are unwilling to take the vaccine are Republicans. A recent Quinnipiac University poll reported that 45% of Republicans said they were not intending to be vaccinated. Other polls universally detail that most Republicans still view Donald Trump favorably. A report in The Hill, for example, put that number at 81%. So think about how much closer we could get to herd immunity if Trump could be persuaded to urge his followers to vaccinate.

This should be right up his alley. He can do it without ever leaving Mar-a-Lago. Play nine holes, then be interviewed on Newsmax. He can take credit for the existence and rapid development of the vaccines. Of course, he will take far more credit than he deserves, but as opposed to many other claims he has made, he probably deserves some credit for this.

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More:Big gaps in vaccine rates across the US worry health experts

We know that the former president has trouble showing empathy, but no need to do so here. Taking these vaccines, he can say, will Make America Great Again! Unlike his suggestion for injecting disinfectant or taking some medicines that were (and still are) unproven or outright disproved for COVID treatment, this time Trump actually has science behind him. While it will be a different dynamic for him, Trump can actually make an argument that is consistent with facts. He doesn’t have to deny facts, twist them or make any up.

Vaccinating the population will allow states and localities to open up quicker and more completely. This links perfectly with Trump’s calls for relaxed mask requirements and other protections against the virus. (Surely you remember his telling Michigan patriots to take back their state last year, as they marched armed to the teeth to the state Capitol, while some planned to kidnap the governor.)

Trump can make special appeals to some of his special followers. The QAnon folks can be told that the government is engaged in a reverse conspiracy, something like: The Swamp dwellers in the Centers for Disease Control and the Biden administration know that if they advocate for taking the vaccine that freedom loving white folks will not take it, thus furthering the plan to replace them with people of color, including undocumented immigrants, when the freedom lovers die off. The best way to prevent this is to take the vaccine.

Should he be allowed back on Twitter, it is not so hard to imagine a series of tweets from @DonaldTrump such as:

“TAKE THE VACCINE! The Big Lie purpatrated (sp) by fake news is that we don’t want to take it. The virus is real. I never called it a hoax.”

Or: “The way to stop the China Virus is by taking the TRUMP VACCINE!!!!”

Now, I know Trump is busy working to defeat every Republican politician who voted to impeach him, who denied the election was stolen, who refused to change votes or discount votes that were actually cast or who is foolish enough to believe that they are entitled to express an opinion that diverts from his.

Still this is a slam dunk for him.

Mr. Trump: You developed the cure for COVID. Take the credit you deserve. Please, please urge your supporters to help themselves and the rest of us by taking the vaccine and avoid becoming spreaders of the virus. Really.

— Steven P. Grossman is the Dean Julius Isaacson Professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. This was written for the Baltimore Sun.