President Biden said he doesn’t understand Americans’ citing “macho” personal freedoms as a reason not to take the COVID-19 vaccine and called on people to roll up their sleeves out of patriotism.
Mr. Biden said he thought politics had been somewhat removed from the vaccine debate.
“I honest to God thought that once we guaranteed we have enough vaccine for everybody, things would start to calm down. Well, they have calmed down a great deal,” Mr. Biden said in an interview that aired Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“But I just don’t understand [this] sort of macho thing about I’m not going to get the vaccine, I have a right as an American, my freedom to not do it,” he continued. “Well, why don’t you be a patriot? Protect other people.”
Mr. Biden has said he plans to direct states to open up vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1 and that people living in areas with tight restrictions could be able to have small gatherings by the July 4 holiday.
“I won’t even be able to meet the July 4th deadline unless people listen, wear masks, wash their hands and socially distance,” the president said. “Because not everyone by July 4th will have been vaccinated.”
The White House has acknowledged that Mr. Biden, as a Democrat, isn’t necessarily the best messenger to try to convince the significant percentage of Republican voters and others who say they won’t get vaccinated.
White House officials said they’d welcome public encouragement from former President Donald Trump, who was quietly vaccinated in January before leaving office, though Mr. Biden said local doctors and preachers would probably be more influential than the former president.
“I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday on Fox News. “And a lot of those people voted for me, frankly. But … we have our freedoms and we have to live by that, and I agree with that also. But it’s a great vaccine and it’s a safe vaccine, and it’s something that works.”
• Dave Boyer contributed to this article.