“There is a bit of a whipsaw effect,” said Joel White, a Republican strategist who focuses on health policy. “If Trump is out there making a big stink about people getting the vaccine and needing to do it, I could see Democrats being turned off — and Blacks and Latinos in particular. But if he does nothing, then the Trump supporters might not be vaccinated because they would see that as a sign.”
Because the president has had Covid-19, he technically should be at the back of the line of people waiting for shots, but the sight of him being injected could be useful. At the White House, officials said having Mr. Trump take the vaccine publicly was “certainly under consideration,” though they noted that it might not affect public opinion since people know he has recovered. (Experts say that those who have survived Covid-19 may be at risk for re-infection and could benefit from vaccination.)
Dr. Fauci, for his part, intends to “get vaccinated publicly,” he said on Friday, as “soon as the vaccine becomes available to me,” as a way of shoring up public support. Aides to Vice President Mike Pence are deliberating about when and how he will be inoculated and whether he would do it in public.
Mr. Trump’s three presidential predecessors — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — have all said they are willing to be vaccinated on camera. In 2009, Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, made a public show of getting vaccinated against the H1N1 influenza virus, waiting their turn until after children had been given the vaccine.
“People need to understand that this vaccine is safe,” Mr. Obama said then. The White House website posted a photograph of him rolling up his sleeve for the shot.
Mr. Biden is already using his platform to encourage Americans to be vaccinated.
“I want to make it clear to the public: You should have confidence in this,” he said on Friday at an event in Wilmington, Del. “There is no political influence. These are first-rate scientists taking their time looking at all of the elements that need to be looked at. Scientific integrity led us to this point.”
Dr. David A. Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration who advises the president-elect on the pandemic, said in an interview that the Biden team was working with medical organizations and other groups to come up with “the most creative, transparent and effective ways” to educate the public, including using a “range of respected voices — both local and national.”
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