By MOLLY NAGLE, ABC News
(NEWARK, Del.) — President-elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, joining a list of high-profile politicians vaccinated in front of cameras to help build confidence in the vaccine across the country.
Dressed in a navy blue mock turtleneck and wearing two masks, Biden pushed up his left sleeve for the vaccination at ChristianaCare’s Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware.
“I’m doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared, when it’s available, to take the vaccine. There’s nothing to worry about. I’m looking forward to the second shot,” Biden said shortly after receiving his vaccination.
“We owe these folks an awful lot. The scientists and the people who put this together and frontline workers, the people who were the ones who actually did the clinical work, it’s just amazing,” Biden said. “We owe you big, we really do.”
Biden’s vaccination comes as a second coronavirus vaccine, produced by Moderna, has begun to be distributed across the country, and as the death toll from the virus nears 320,000 Americans.
The president-elect said the Trump administration “deserves some credit” for getting the vaccine and distribution off the ground with Operation Warp Speed, but stressed that while the vaccines marked progress, the country needs to continue taking precautions to slow the spread of coronavirus, particularly around the upcoming holidays.
“I don’t want to sound like a sour note here, but I hope people listen to all of the experts and the Dr. Faucis on … talking about the need to wear masks during this Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Wear masks, socially distance. And if you don’t have to travel, don’t travel. Don’t travel. It’s really important because we’re still in the thick of this,” Biden said.
Biden, 78, had long promised to take the vaccine if advised by Dr. Anthony Fauci to do so. In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America last week, Fauci recommended Biden receive the vaccine as soon as possible.
“Dr. Fauci recommends I get the vaccine sooner than later. I want to just make sure we do it by the numbers, and we do it — but when I do it, you’ll have notice and we’ll do it publicly. Thank you,” Biden told reporters last Tuesday.
Vice President-elect Harris and her husband, incoming second gentleman Doug Emhoff, are also expected to receive the vaccine at a later date.
“Consistent with security and medical protocols, the Vice President will not receive the vaccine at the same time as the president. We expect she and Mr. Emhoff will receive their first dose of the vaccine the following week, and we will have additional details on that next week,” the incoming White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said Friday.
Biden joins several political leaders who have received the vaccine, including Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and several members of Congress.
One politician yet to take the vaccine is President Donald Trump, who has largely been out of public sight since the two COVID-19 vaccines have received emergency use authorization from the FDA.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was open to taking the vaccine at a press briefing last week, but the president also wanted to prioritize front-line workers and those in long-term care facilities.
Trump is also believed to have some level of immunity from his COVID-19 case this fall. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have received a monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for COVID-19, as the president did in October, are recommended to wait 90 days before getting vaccinated.
“His doctors, who I’ve spoken with, wanted people to understand that if you have recently been given monoclonal antibodies, the FDA says you should wait several weeks before you get vaccinated,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told reporters Monday. “So the reason the president has not gotten vaccinated yet is because his doctors have advised him to wait.”
In an interview for ABC’s This Week Sunday, Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir said it would be beneficial if the president were to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I would encourage the president to get a vaccine for his own health and safety and also to generate more confidence among the people who follow him so closely,” Giroir said.
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