“People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary,” Trump tweeted. “I have asked that this adjustment be made. I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time. Thank you!”
The president’s tweet followed a report in the New York Times that leading government officials would be among the first to get doses of the newly released vaccines, which are being counted on to slow the coronavirus pandemic. Almost 300,000 Americans have died during the pandemic, and more than 16 million have been diagnosed with it; numbers in recent weeks have been the highest since the coronavirus was first reported in the U.S.
It was not clear if, according to the “unless specifically necessary” part of Trump’s tweet, some members of the administration would indeed receive the vaccination early in the process. Some employees might be deemed necessary to ensure there is continuity in the functioning of the government.
“Senior officials across all three branches of government will receive vaccinations pursuant to continuity of government protocols established in executive policy,” said John Ullyot, a spokesperson for the National Security Council. “The American people should have confidence that they are receiving the same safe and effective vaccine as senior officials of the United States government on the advice of public health professionals and national security leadership.”
On Sunday, the first of the freezer-packed vaccine vials from Pfizer made their way to various distribution sites across the nation. Vaccination is expected to start Monday, with frontline health care workers and residents of nursing homes expected to be at the top of the priority list.