White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki applauded former President Donald Trump on Thursday for his recent comments promoting the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re grateful the former president got the booster,” Psaki told reporters at a briefing at the White House. “We’re also grateful that he made clear in a recent interview that they’re effective and they’re safe. That’s an important message for anyone to hear.”
At an event with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly in Dallas on Sunday, Trump confirmed that he has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and revealed that he had received a third shot, a comment that prompted boos from some people in the audience.
In another interview, with the conservative commentator Candace Owens on Wednesday, the former president continued to tout the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, which were developed under his administration.
"The vaccine is one of the greatest achievements of mankind," Trump told Owens. "And if you take the vaccine, you're protected. The results of the vaccine are good."
Trump’s comments have elicited rare praise from the current administration. In a speech at the White House on Wednesday, President Biden acknowledged the previous administration’s success in developing the coronavirus vaccines and commended Trump himself for announcing that he’d received the booster.
"It may be one of the few things he and I agree on," Biden said. "People with booster shots are highly protected. Join them. Join us."
In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday night, Trump said he was “surprised” by the compliment from Biden, who has been an outspoken critic of his predecessor's handling of the pandemic. Trump admitted, "It is a little tough to be overly critical now, because he just thanked us for the vaccine and thanked me for what I did.”
While he endorsed the vaccines, Trump has continued to oppose mandates requiring inoculation.
"It’s a matter of getting people out to, ideally, get the vaccine," Trump told Fox News. "If you have the mandate, the mandate will destroy people’s lives — it destroys people’s lives, just as the vaccine saves people."
At the White House on Thursday, Psaki said that despite the recent exchange of kudos, Biden and Trump are not in contact and are not likely to be teaming up further to promote the vaccines.
“We believe that the former president being out there and stating what is factually accurate about the about the efficacy of vaccines — of getting boosted — is a good thing,” Psaki said, adding that the Biden administration believes “it’s a good thing to have a range of voices out there, Democrats, Republicans, celebrities, non-celebrities,” who are advocating for vaccination.
“This is not a partisan issue,” she continued. “This is about saving lives, communicating accurate information, pushing back on against inaccurate information. And, in this particular case, the former president did that.”