But the president is also aware that a large part of his political base is made up of supporters who refuse to wear masks and so-called anti-vaxxers suspicious of the Covid-19 vaccine. After months of positioning himself in opposition to public health experts, people familiar with his thinking said, Mr. Trump feels on some level as if he does not want to be seen as caving in the end to the advice of the same people he has disparaged.

Some supporters with large online followings have even criticized him in recent days for promoting the vaccine at all. “You know, Trump, probably 80 percent of your base does not want that vaccine,” DeAnna Lorraine, a QAnon conspiracy theorist with a large following on InfoWars, said on her program last week. “I don’t care who takes it. I don’t care if Jesus takes it. I’m not taking the vaccine.”

Public health officials said they were pleased that the vice president was going to be vaccinated in public, along with Surgeon General Jerome Adams, despite the president’s own lack of interest in sending a similar public health message.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Dr. Vinay Gupta, an assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Washington. “The question is why don’t they do it together, six feet apart? It would be really powerful for the president, who has gotten exceptional treatment, to say that even in spite of getting the best care, it’s important that I get this vaccine.”

Mr. Trump’s decision, so far, to not get vaccinated, Dr. Gupta said, risked undermining any confidence that Mr. Pence might instill among skeptics who take their cues from the president alone.

“The fact that he is not getting it makes one wonder if he’s worried,” Dr. Gupta said. He also said the muddled messages from the administration — hailing the vaccine while hosting holiday parties — risked “giving false reassurances to the American people that the vaccine is here and vigilance is no longer required.”

White House officials have said Mr. Trump does not need to get vaccinated because he still has the protective effects of the monoclonal antibody cocktail that was used to treat him for the virus in October. But Dr. Gupta said that was a misinterpretation of the results and that there was “no scientific reason not to get vaccinated.”



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