Barack Obama has been mocked for saying he would take a future Covid-19 vaccine live on camera to prove its safety. Critics quickly recalled a similar “stunt” when he drank newly cleaned water in Flint, Michigan.
“I promise you that when it’s been made for people who are less at risk, I will be taking it,” Obama said of a potential vaccine in a SiriusXM radio interview released on Thursday. “I may end up taking it on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science,” he added.
Yet, critics immediately pounced on the comment, comparing it to his response to the Flint water crisis.
The infamous health disaster began in 2014, when, due to mismanagement, water pipes succumbed to corrosion and contaminated the city’s supply with lead. In May 2016, Obama visited Flint to highlight federal assistance in replacing some of the lead pipes.
Then, during a rally and a press conference Obama apparently drank some of the newly safe Flint water in front of cameras, personally attesting to its safety. “This is not a stunt,” he insisted.
Despite the ex-president’s earlier seal of approval, the city still doesn’t have fully clean water, as even four years later, not all contaminated pipes have been replaced. The Flint water crisis resulted in at least 12 deaths – and thousands of people, including children, were exposed to lead, which prompted health and cognitive issues.
In that context, Obama’s promised attempt to dissuade fears around a potential coronavirus vaccine was called yet ‘another stunt,’ done only for publicity. “The fact that Flint still doesn’t have clean water is crazy but mostly sad,” tweeted one commenter.
One person joked that Obama should wash the vaccine down “with a Flint water chaser.”
“If Obama takes the vaccine, I’m definitely waiting,” quipped another one.
Another stunt, Like when he drank water in Flint, Michigan
— Jonathan Murden (@Jmurden08) December 3, 2020
Will he drink it down with a Flint water chaser?
— Berniegirl (@mackyson) December 2, 2020
Followed by a glass of water from Flint, Michigan… oops… , I forgot: he already pulled that stunt.
— Dietrich Buxtehude (@Buxtehude11) December 3, 2020
On the other hand, some critics thought Obama taking the vaccine would make a powerful statement and called him a “leader” who was “setting an example for the nation and the world.”
A leader leading. Imagine that.
— Joe Newberry (@JoeNewberry) December 2, 2020
— Lauren (Wear a Mask) Leader (@laurenleaderAIT) December 3, 2020
Obama was not the only ex-president who has promised to get vaccinated on TV. In a ‘We are the World’ type collaboration, both his predecessors, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, also said they are also ready to publicly take the jab.