WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence was vaccinated for COVID-19 Friday (Dec. 18) in a live-television event aimed at reassuring Americans the vaccine is safe. He celebrated the shot as “a medical miracle” that could eventually contain the raging coronavirus pandemic.
Pence, the highest profile official yet to receive the vaccine, has taken an increasingly visible role in highlighting the safety of the shot, including touring a vaccine production facility this week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both said Thursday that they will get vaccinated in the next few days. President-elect Joe Biden expects to receive his shot as soon as next week.
“The American people can be confident: we have one and perhaps within hours two” safe vaccines, Pence said after being injected with Pfizer-BioNTech’s shot and also referring to expected FDA approval for Moderna’s vaccine. “Building confidence in the vaccine is what brings us here this morning,” he added.
Pence’s wife Karen and Surgeon General Jerome Adams also received shots during the televised White House event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Adams, who is Black, emphasized the “the importance of representation” in outreach to at-risk communities and encouraged Americans to avoid disinformation around the vaccines.
A survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that only about half of Americans want to get the vaccine as soon as possible. Another quarter of the public isn’t sure, while the remaining quarter say they aren’t interested. Some simply oppose vaccines in general. Others are concerned that the injections have been rushed and want to see how the rollout goes.
White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern said President Donald Trump “will continue to update the country through a variety of means while giving medical professionals and hardworking staff at OWS the space to do their jobs and save lives.” OWS is the acronym for Operation Warp Speed, the White House-backed effort through which millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines and treatments are being manufactured even as they are still being evaluated.
While senior officials are beginning to make plans to receive the vaccine in public to help build public confidence, Trump, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 in October, is taking his time.
According to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is not yet enough information to determine whether those who have had COVID-19, like Trump, should get the vaccine. Still, Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, recommended that Trump take it publicly without delay.
“Even though the president himself was infected, and he has, likely, antibodies that likely would be protective, we’re not sure how long that protection lasts. So, to be doubly sure, I would recommend that he get vaccinated as well as the vice president,” Fauci told ABC News.
It was not clear whether first lady Melania Trump, who came down with COVID-19 at the same time as her husband, would be vaccinated.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters this week that Trump was trying to send a message about priorities by delaying his own inoculation.
“The president wants to send a parallel message which is, you know, our long-term care facility residents and our front-line workers are paramount in importance,” she said.
Presidents and their family members have often made a display of their vaccinations to boost public confidence. President Dwight Eisenhower highlighted that one of his grandchildren was among the first wave of American children vaccinated for polio. In 2009, President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, vaccinated both their young daughters, who were in a higher risk group, for the swine flu.
From The Associated Press. May not be republished.