In fact, Trump’s initial anti-vax tweets were associated with increased anti-vax sentiment. But it took until April of 2022 for the phenomenon to be identified. Early on this might have been countered had Trump changed his stance. Researchers found that compilations of former President Donald Trump’s Fox News interview recommending the COVID-19 vaccine were able to overcome some anti-vax sentiment. Sadly, Trump’s initial position became entrenched in the party line.
Today, former President Trump finds himself like the sorcerer’s apprentice, wielding a power, like the brooms fetching water, that he can no longer control. After being the first President on record with anti-vaccine sentiments, Trump belatedly seemed to come around. In December of 2021, Trump about-faced and revealed a lukewarm embrace of boosters (which has only a 40% US uptake, compared to 70% in, for example, the UK). But the prior mindset had already stuck. Trump was booed by his base, which rejected him, vilified him, and generated the feared backlash of group ostracism.
In sum, for the great majority of those averse to vaccination, that aversion is politically-driven. And for that cohort, persuasion won’t work. It’s time to start noticing the nuances and stop pining for a perfect world.