December 19 (The Guardian) – Mike Pence received the Covid-19 vaccination on live television on Friday morning, saying the vaccine is a “medical miracle” and reassuring Americans “that hope is on the way”.
“Confidence in the vaccine is what brings us here this morning,” the vice-president said in remarks following his vaccination. “I didn’t feel a thing. Well done.”
His wife, Karen, and the surgeon general, Jerome Adams, also received shots during the televised White House event.
Healthcare workers from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center administered the vaccinations.
Sitting in the front row at Pence’s inoculation was Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top disease expert and member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, and Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. The public vaccination comes amid concerns the rollout of the vaccine could be hampered by some people concerned at its quick approval. Fauci praised Pence and said it was “now up to all of us to step forward and get vaccinated”.
In recent days, Fauci has been advocating that Pence, as well as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, should get the vaccination as soon as possible “for security reasons”. Biden officials have said the president-elect and his vice-president could receive the vaccine as early as next week.
Pence said he and his wife “were more than happy to step forward before this week was up to take this safe and effective coronavirus vaccine” calling this week “historic” as the US started distributing doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. He alluded to the possibility of Moderna’s vaccine being approved by the FDA today, saying “we have one and perhaps, within hours, two vaccines”.
Less than an hour before Pence’s remarks, Donald Trump published a tweet that appeared to falsely claimed Moderna’s approval, saying “distribution to start immediately”. The FDA has not made a public decision on the vaccine after a panel of outside advisers met to discuss the vaccine yesterday.
Pence is the first member of the White House to be publicly vaccinated. Trump was infected with Covid-19 in October and multiple outbreaks of the virus have occurred among staffers. After initial reports that White House officials would be receiving the first doses of the vaccine, Trump tweeted last week that he halted the Oval Office’s rollout. “I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time,” he said.
While the White House has tried to soften the appearance of the virus’ spread in the country, Pence acknowledged that “with cases rising across the country, hospitalizations rising across the country, we have a ways to go”. Yesterday, the US saw 233,271 new cases of the virus and 3,270 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.