Former President Trump again urged people to be vaccinated against COVID-19, saying he would recommend vaccination to “a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me.” In an interview Tuesday night on Fox News, Mr. Trump acknowledged that people were free to decide for themselves whether they would be vaccinated against the virus.

Mr. Trump has promoted the vaccination before. When he appeared Feb. 28 at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, he said, “Everybody, go get your shot.”

But public health experts have expressed concern that many Americans’ reluctance to do so could significantly hinder virus fighting efforts overall.

Mr. Trump and former first lady Melania Trump got vaccinated privately at the White House in January, while other top GOP officials, including Vice President Pence, got the shot on television in a public show of support. Mr. Trump hasn’t publicly mentioned that he was inoculated.

Every living former U.S. president except Mr. Trump participated in a recent vaccination public service announcement.

“He’s a very widely popular person among Republicans,” Fauci said. “If he came out and said, ‘Go and get vaccinated. It’s really important for your health, the health of your family and the health of the country,’ it seems absolutely inevitable that the vast majority of people who are his close followers would listen to him.”

Fauci added that he’s very surprised that a high percentage of Republicans are avoiding the vaccine, saying doesn’t understand why.

“This isn’t a political issue, this is a public health issue,” he said.