Washington, December 16
US President Donald Trump is “absolutely open” to taking the coronavirus vaccine but his priority is frontline workers and the most vulnerable, the White House has said.
The US on Friday allowed the emergency use of COVID-19 vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech with a critical care nurse in New York receiving the first jab.
“The President, currently at this moment, has said he is absolutely open to taking the vaccine. He’s been emphatic about that to me privately and to you all publicly. But he did recently recover from COVID,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Tuesday when asked if the president plans to take the vaccine in public to inspire confidence among the people.
“He has the continued protective effects of the monoclonal antibody cocktail that I mentioned, and he will receive the vaccine as soon as his medical team determines it’s best. But his priority is frontline workers, those in long-term care facilities, and he wants to make sure that the vulnerable get access first,” McEnany said.
Trump was hospitalised with COVID-19 in October.
In the past week, the US, the worst-hit nation, has reported an average of more than 2,15,000 new infections a day.
More than 3,03,000 people in the US have died from coronavirus in 10 months, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Former presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama along with President-elect Joe Biden have said that they would publicly take the vaccine.
Top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci on Tuesday said that even though President Trump has antibodies to the virus, he should receive the vaccine to be doubly sure. He also advocated giving the vaccine to Vice President Mike Pence, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, according to media reports.
McEnany said that President Trump wants to show that his priority is the Americans who are the most vulnerable.
“There will be some senior administration officials taking it publicly to instill that confidence; it is very important,” she said.
“You will learn in the next few days who those individuals will be. But they will be taking it publicly to instill confidence. The President wants to send a parallel message, which is, you know, our long-term care facility residents and our frontline workers are paramount in importance, and he wants to set an example in that regard,” McEnany said.
A small group of people from the White House would also be taking the vaccine.
“As has been reported and as I shared with some of you yesterday, it will be a very limited group of people who have access to it initially. The President’s tweet indicated that the White House should receive it at a later date to, again, prioritise the most vulnerable. But some national security staff, for the purposes of continuity of government, will have access, in addition to a very small group of senior administration officials for the purpose of instilling public confidence,” she said. PTI