Former President Donald Trump urged his supporters on Sunday to get a booster shot of one of the COVID-19 vaccines to protect themselves against the Omicron variant, telling them they were “playing right into their hands” by doubting the vaccines.
Sitting alongside the former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly at a stadium in Dallas, Trump touted his administration’s contribution toward developing the vaccines as part of Operation Warp Speed.
“Look, we did something that was historic,” he said. “We saved tens of millions of lives worldwide. We, together, all of us, not me.”
He added that without the vaccine, millions more people would have died from the virus.
“I think this would have been the Spanish flu of 1917, where up to 100 million people died,” he said. “This was going to ravage the country far beyond what it is right now.”
He then told his supporters to “take credit” for the vaccine, saying they shouldn’t “let them take it away.”
“You’re playing right into their hands when you’re sort of, like, ‘Oh, the vaccine,'” he said, referring to those of his supporters who have expressed hesitancy about or opposition to the vaccine.
“If you don’t want to take it, you shouldn’t be forced to take it — no mandates,” he added. “But take credit because we saved tens of millions of lives.”
The former president went on to declare that he had gotten a booster shot himself, which elicited booing and jeering from the audience.
“Don’t. Don’t. Don’t,” Trump said of those booing. “That’s all right. It’s a very tiny group up there.”
Trump’s comments marked a reversal from just months ago, when he told The Wall Street Journal that he was unlikely to get a booster shot.
“I feel like I’m in good shape from that standpoint — I probably won’t,” he told the newspaper in September. “I’ll look at stuff later on. I’m not against it, but it’s probably not for me.”
Since leaving office, Trump has been inconsistent on his vaccine messaging, largely holding off on talking about his administration’s push to fast-track the inoculations after getting booed when he promoted the shots at an Alabama event over the summer.