Franklin Graham Urges Hesitant Evangelicals to Get COVID Shot: 'Thank God for Vaccines'

Evangelical leader Reverend Franklin Graham has again urged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine and suggested that modern medicine is an extension of Jesus Christ's healing ministry.

Graham, who is president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and aid organization Samaritan's Purse, spoke to CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Monday and urged those skeptical about the vaccine to accept it.

Although vaccine hesitancy is not confined to the evangelical community, a recent Pew Research poll showed that 45 percent of white evangelicals said they would not get the vaccine.

"So what's your message to fellow evangelicals who are still very hesitant to get this potentially life-saving vaccine?" Blitzer asked.

"First of all Wolf, I think a lot of this is changing - these attitudes," Graham said.

"When Jesus started his ministry, he went about preaching and he used his power as the Son of God to bring healing to people's bodies.

"And he didn't do it so they'd have a better life. He did it so they'd put their faith and trust in him as the Son of God. And as a Christian, I think it's important that we model our ministry after that of Jesus Christ. We want to try to bring healing to people's bodies, and we can do that through modern medicine."

Graham noted that there is vaccine skepticism among groups other than Evangelicals and he addressed concerns about it. As Blitzer noted, Graham has been fully vaccinated.

"I think that a lot of people are afraid of just something that's new and I thank God for the vaccine," Graham said.

"I thank God for the polio vaccine," Graham said, recalling how that vaccine was distributed when he was a child and how polio was subsequently eliminated in the U.S.as a result.

Graham said he would be happy to work with the Biden administration in order to encourage people to take the vaccine. He has been a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump but said he hadn't spoken to Trump about whether he would also publicly encourage taking the vaccine.

"I would encourage the president ... There's no downside for him to do this," Graham said. "I think it'd be a very easy thing and I might try to get a hold of him even tonight and say something to him."

Graham told Axios in an interview last week that people should get vaccinated against COVID-19 before it's "too late."

"I want people to know that COVID-19 can kill you, but we have a vaccine out there that could possibly save your life. And if you wait, it could be too late," Graham said.

Newsweek has asked the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for comment.

Franklin Graham Speaks in California in 2018
Rev. Franklin Graham speaks during Franklin Graham's "Decision America" California tour at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds on May 29, 2018 in Turlock, California. Graham has urged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images