Donald Trump is reversing a decision for senior White House officials to be among the first in the US to receive the newly approved coronavirus vaccine.
In a tweet, the president – who spent three nights in hospital with COVID-19 in October – said “people working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary”.
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People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2020
He added: “I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time.”
On Sunday, officials said doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech inoculation would be made available to those who work closely with the president and other senior members of his administration as early as this week.
National Security Council spokesperson John Ulyot said: “Senior officials across all three branches of government will receive vaccinations pursuant to continuity of government protocols established in executive policy.
The first doses left the Pfizer factory in Michigan on Sunday
“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.”
The move was said to be in order to prevent the virus spreading in the White House.
But it drew criticism from some on social media as Mr Trump and his team have been accused of flouting COVID guidelines issued by his own administration.
The green light for the vaccine – the first to be signed off in the US and the same one that’s being distributed in the UK – came late on Friday from the Food and Drug Administration, and the first batches will begin arriving in the US on Monday morning.
Nearly 150 distribution centres across America will receive deliveries of the jab.
Initially, about three million doses are expected to be sent out with health care workers and nursing home residents being the first to receive it.
According to guidance from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is not yet enough information to determine whether those who have had coronavirus should also get it.
The Pfizer jab requires two doses administered three weeks apart, meaning Trump administration officials would receive the final shot just weeks before leaving office.
Advisers to President-elect Joe Biden, 78, have been discussing when and how he should receive it, and have been working to establish plans to boost virus safeguards in the West Wing to keep the Democrat safe.