President Donald Trump on Sunday night said that senior White House staff members will have to wait to receive the coronavirus vaccines in the weeks ahead. Earlier in the day, a spokesman for the administration said that senior officials in the executive, legislature, and judiciary arm of the government would be among the first people to receive the vaccine once it is rolled out.
The spokesman for the National Security Council, John Ullyot, said top officials within the executive branch of government would be among the first to be vaccinated once the inoculation program begins. This step, he said, is in line with the National Continuity Policy of 2016 that ensures the health of essential employees is adequately provided for to enable them to perform the statutory roles and responsibilities that their office demands.
The announcement came on the heels of the expected initial shipment of the vaccines to various sites across the country on Monday. According to the planned distribution of the vaccine, first responders in the health sector and residents of nursing homes will get inoculated first.
Ullyot dismissed fears among the populace that different vaccines would be administered on senior officials of the government, as against those given to the general public. He assured the American people that there were no preferential treatments and that everybody would be getting the same dose of the vaccine.
After the announcement by Ullyot, Trump came out to announce a change in plans. He stated that senior White House staff would have to wait in the meantime. They were only to get a dose of the vaccine in situations that proved absolutely necessary, Trump said. He reiterated that he would get administered himself with the vaccine later in the program, NPR reports.
The White House had witnessed an outbreak of the coronavirus that affected senior members, including Trump and First Lady Melania Trump.
The vaccine developed by Pfizer in collaboration with BioNTech has been praised highly by federal public health officials. The vaccine is touted to be safe and highly efficacious against a virus that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans and affected 16.4 million people in the country since the pandemic began.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the vaccine after the drug gained emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The UK was the first western country to kick-start the inoculation program after Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first person in the country to receive the life-saving vaccine. The UK currently has the highest number of coronavirus deaths in Europe at 63,082, as of December 11. The UK alone has more than 1.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The UK said frontline health workers, nursing home workers, and residents over 80-years-old would be among the first people to access the vaccine.