Though the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and effective at minimizing the spread of the virus that's killed more than 800 thousand Americans, conspiracy theories and skepticism regarding them have gripped conservative voters across the United States.
Far-right lawmakers like Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin have repeatedly used their platforms to promote the false idea that the vaccines are dangerous or an exercise in government control. Republican governors like Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas have banned private businesses from verifying vaccinations at their establishments. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that unvaccinated people are disproportionately Republican.
Though former President Donald Trump has consistently said the vaccines are safe, he's been criticized for not doing enough to disavow his supporters' conspiracies regarding it. Unlike many elected officials, Trump declined to be vaccinated in public. Meanwhile, he's blamed vaccine skepticism on President Joe Biden and insisted that vaccine mandates aren't necessary.
While on his speaking tour with conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly this past weekend, Trump urged his supporters to trust the vaccine and revealed he'd gotten the booster.
After encouraging his supporters to reject vaccine skepticism, while also opposing vaccine mandates, Trump announced he was boosted, which prompted some of his supporters to boo.
Trump stopped before admonishing them:
"Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't. No. That's all right. It's a very tiny group over there."
But that "tiny group" represented a larger part of his base that also opposed Trump's comments on Twitter.
But even Trump's critics hoped some of his supporters would heed his words.
A number of social media users suggested cutting the moment into an ad to run on right-wing media outlets like Fox News and Newsmax, which have embraced vaccine skepticism.
According to experts, the effort to get booster shots in the arms of Americans is far behind.