Former US president Donald Trump was booed at a 'Save America' rally in Alabama on Saturday (local time) after suggesting his supporters get vaccinated against Covid-19.
"And you know what? I believe totally in your freedoms. I do. You've got to do what you have to do," Trump said.
"But I recommend take the vaccines. I did it. It's good. Take the vaccines."
Trump's suggestion was met with a chorus, and boos from the crowd, with the former president responding by telling them if the vaccine doesn't work they'll be the "first to know".
"No, that's okay. That's all right. You got your freedoms," Trump continued.
"But I happened to take the vaccine. If it doesn't work, you'll be the first to know, okay? I'll call up Alabama, I'll say, hey, you know what? But [the vaccine] is working.
"But you do have your freedoms you have to keep. You have to maintain that."
Covid cases surging in Alabama
Alabama is experiencing a surge of Covid-19 cases as the Delta variant spreads through the southern states of the US.
According to the Department of Public Health, the state is reporting the highest number of daily Covid cases since the pandemic began.
Alabama has one of the lowest Covid vaccination rates in the US, with just over 36 per cent of the population fully vaccinated.
The state requested staff and resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency as another Covid wave threatens to overwhelm its health care capacity, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
"Critically ill patients in the state this week outnumbered the total number of staffed ICU beds available, with a major surge in south Alabama pushing hospitals to their limits," the report said.
"The Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed this week it requested federal aid, with at least one rural Alabama hospital requesting FEMA staff to help run patient units."
Trump was vaccinated in January
According to multiple news outlets, the former president got vaccinated while in office at the White House in January 2021, though it wasn't made known to the American public until March.
Nationwide, the majority of Covid hospitalisations and deaths are people who were not vaccinated, The New York Times reported.
A Kaiser Family Foundation vaccination tracking poll released in April 2021 showed 40 per cent of Republicans said they would never receive a vaccination unless it was required.
Trump previously praised the Covid vaccines, saying they were "saving the world", but repeatedly has said people should be able to exercise their "freedoms", Forbes reported.
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