US President Donald Trump said Sunday that he has reversed an administrative directive to vaccinate top government officials against COVID-19, while general distribution of the ring is restricted to frontline health workers and people in nursing homes and long-term care. Facilities.
Trump made the announcement hours after his administration confirmed that senior U.S. officials, including some White House aides who work close to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, will be offered coronavirus vaccines as soon as this week as part of the federal continuity of government plans.
Trump said in a tweet on Twitter: “White House personnel should receive the vaccine at a later time in the program, unless specifically necessary.” “I asked for this amendment. I am not scheduled to get the vaccine, but I look forward to doing it in time.”
It was not immediately clear what scope the vaccination program was supposed to be, according to two people familiar with the matter, or what impact Trump’s tweet would have had on the government’s efforts to protect the top leadership.
News that White House employees received the vaccine early drew criticism on social media. Trump and his aides have consistently violated his administration’s COVID-19 guidelines, including hosting large holiday parties with unmasked attendees in December.
Officials said earlier Sunday that doses of the newly approved Pfizer vaccine would be made available to those who work in close quarters with the country’s top leaders. They said the move is aimed at preventing further spread of COVID-19 in the White House and other vital facilities. Trump was hospitalized with the virus for three days in October.
National Security Council spokesman John Oliot said, “Senior officials in all three branches of government will receive vaccinations according to the continuation of government protocols stipulated in the executive policy.” “The American people should trust that they receive the same safe and effective vaccine that senior US government officials receive on the advice of public health professionals and the National Security Command.”
The two people briefed on the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The New York Times reported for the first time that senior US officials would receive the vaccine early.
The move to vaccinate top US officials will be consistent with the introduction of coronavirus rapid testing machines, which were similarly controlled by the federal government with kits designed to protect the White House complex and other vital facilities.
According to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there isn’t enough information yet to determine whether those who have contracted COVID-19 should get the vaccine as well.
Pence has not contracted the virus, and his aides have been discussing when and how he should receive the vaccine as management looks to boost public confidence in the shot.
The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart, which means Trump administration officials will have their last shot just weeks before leaving the office.
Aides to President-elect Joe Biden have discussed when and how he should receive the vaccine and are working on plans to step up virus prevention measures in the West Wing to keep the 78-year-old Democrat healthy.
According to a Capitol Hill official, lawmakers have not been informed of how many doses will be provided to them, adding that it would be too early to speculate who might receive them. The official was not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Associated Press writer Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report from Washington.
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