Donald Trump booed at Alabama rally after encouraging his supporters to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Former US President Donald Trump has faced the wrath of his Republican fanbase after suggesting his supporters should get vaccinated against COVID-19.

During a 'Save America' rally in Cullman, Alabama on Saturday night (local time), the business magnate - who was ousted from the US presidency by Joe Biden in January this year - urged his supporters to "take the vaccine", advice that was met with an onslaught of booing.

Trump, who made international headlines last year for refusing to concede defeat following the events of the tumultuous November election, was vaccinated against COVID-19 at the White House in January. However, the American public was not made privy to this information until two months later.

The former President had himself been hospitalised with COVID-19 in October after months of downplaying the pandemic, eschewing masks, and fuelling misinformation by suggesting "disinfectant", "light and heat" and hydroxychloroquine - a malaria drug - could be treatments for the virus.

"You know what, I believe totally in your freedoms, I do, you've got to do what you have to do," Trump said to the crowd. 

"But I recommend that you take the vaccines! I did it, it's good, take the vaccines."

But Trump quickly backpedalled when his exclamation was met with boos and jeers by the audience, as per a video shared to social media by Vox journalist Aaron Rupar.

"No, that's okay, that's alright," Trump hastily added, waving his hand. "You got your freedoms. But I happened to take the vaccine."

Once the booing died down, he quipped that the crowd would be the "first to know" if the vaccines were ineffective.

"If it doesn't work, you'll be the first to know," he said, with the crowd erupting into laughter and clapping. "I'll call up Alabama and say, 'hey, you know what?'

"But it is working," he added. "But you do have your freedoms, you have to maintain that. You have to maintain that. And you've got to get your kids back to school."

The speech follows reports that Trump's allies have been attempting to get the former President to front a pro-vaccination campaign, according to the Daily Beast.

Reports say Trump has proved reluctant out of concern that promoting vaccination would not sit well with his supporters - and give further weight to President Biden.

It's not the first time Trump has endorsed the vaccines, previously saying they were "saving the world". However, he has repeatedly contrasted that with claims that Americans should be able to exercise their right to freedom of choice. 

Earlier this year, Trump issued a statement in which he took credit for the United States' swift rollout and vaccination campaign.

In the statement, he insisted that Americans should remember that if it wasn't for him, it would've taken "five years" before they had access to the "beautiful" vaccine.

"I hope everyone remembers when they're getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) vaccine, that if I wasn't President, you wouldn't be getting that beautiful 'shot' for five years, at best, and probably won't be getting it at all," he said. "I hope everyone remembers!"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday (local time) about 200.4 million Americans had  received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including about 170 million people who have been fully vaccinated by Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine or the two-dose series made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.