WASHINGTON – Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House’s coronavirus task force, was vaccinated for COVID-19 Friday morning at an event intended to build public confidence in the vaccine.
“I didn’t feel a thing,” Pence said. “Well done.”
Pence sat in a chair next to an American flag and under a sign that said “SAFE and EFFECTIVE.”
He received the recently-approved vaccine developed by Pfizer that is being distributed throughout the country.
“Karen and I hope this step today will be a source of confidence and of comfort to the American people,” Pence said.
Declaring that the way through the pandemic is “vigilance and a vaccine,” Pence encouraged the public to “continue to do your part” through hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing while the vaccine is being distributed.
“These days of heartbreak and hardship will, in a day not too far in the future, be put in the past,” he said.
The vaccine was administered by staff from the Walter Reed National Medical Center.
One of the standard round of pre-vaccination questions – Are you pregnant or breast feeding? – got a laugh from those in the room.
Pence’s wife, Karen, was also vaccinated as was Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
The surgeon general made a specific appeal to minority communities that the vaccine is safe to receive, also noting his own increased risk of COVID-19 because of underlying health conditions.
“As the U.S. Surgeon general and a Black man, I’m equally aware of the symbolic significance of my vaccination today,” he said.
Adams said it would be the greatest tragedy if the disparities among communities of color – who have been hit hard by the virus – were to worsen if those who would benefit most can’t or won’t get vaccinated.
Dr. Anthony Fauci recalled that it was just more than a year ago when Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called him to say, “I think we have a problem.”
“Literally, a few days after that, the work began to develop the vaccine,” he said.
Fauci said the “truly unprecedented” speed with which the vaccine was approved was the result of extraordinary scientific advances and did not compromise safety or scientific integrity.
“We want virtually everyone eligible to get this vaccine,” he said.
Experts: No need to wait to get a COVID-19 vaccination
Fauci said Tuesday that Pence, President Donald Trump, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris should be vaccinated to protect the nation’s top leaders.
Biden could be vaccinated early next week.
Even though Trump had COVID in October and likely has antibodies that would protect him, scientists don’t know how long that protection lasts, Fauci said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
The White House has not said when or whether Trump will be vaccinated.
Pence did not respond to questions from reporters Friday about the president and who will get the vaccine next.
Besides Trump, many White House officials tested positive for the coronavirus this year including Pence’s chief of staff and several others in his immediate orbit.
Chris Miller, the acting Defense Secretary, got his COVID-19 vaccine at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
More: Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine gets panel support, set to become the second cleared by FDA for use in US
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