WASHINGTON, D.C. — Vice President Mike Pence became the highest ranking U.S. official to received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday in a live-television event aimed at reassuring Americans the shot is safe. He celebrated the milestone as “a medical miracle” that could eventually contain the raging pandemic.
Pence has taken an increasingly visible role in highlighting the safety and efficacy of the shots, 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. Presumptive President-elect Joe Biden expects to receive his shot as soon as next week.
“I didn’t feel a thing. Well done,” Pence told the technicians from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center who administered his Pfizer-BioNTech shot early Friday morning. Pence didn’t flinch during the quick prick, nor did his wife, Karen, or Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who also received shots during the televised White House event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
“Hope is on the way,” Pence later said. “The American people can be confident: We have one and perhaps within hours two safe vaccines,” he added, referring to the FDA’s expected authorization of a second vaccine by Moderna.
He did not respond to shouted questions about why the president wasn’t headlining a similar event.
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.
Trump, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 in October, has yet to indicate when or if he will receive the shot.
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, Dr. Anthony Fauci 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.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters this week that Trump, “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.