Vice President Mike Pence became the highest-ranking US official to receive Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine on Friday.
Mr Pence received the vaccine in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House alongside his wife, Karen Pence, and US Surgeon General Jerome Adams – all of whom wore masks.
Several US officials on President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, which Mr Pence oversees, watched the vice president receive his first dose of the vaccination: National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases director Dr Anthony Fauci, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma.
Mr Pence called it a “truly inspiring day” after a medical technician administered the vaccine and told him to return for the second dose in 21 days.
The technician also noted that Mr Pence would receive documentation indicating that he had received the vaccine.
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to receive the vaccine on Monday, while Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is slated to receive it the week after.
While he received the vaccine, several screens stood over Mr Pence reading Operation Warp Speed, Mr Trump’s name for the US vaccine distribution plan. Another sign said “safe and effective,” hinting at the White House’s concern over the widespread anti-vaccination sentiment that has gripped large segments of the American public.
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll released on Tuesday found that 71 per cent of respondents would “definitely or probably” receive the vaccine, while more than a quarter of respondents indicated that they would not do so.
Vaccine scepticism was highest among members of Mr Pence’s own party, with 42 per cent of Republicans saying they would not take the vaccine.
Mr Trump, who has touted his administration’s efforts to promote a Covid-19 vaccine since the pandemic first hit the US, has so far not received the vaccine himself.
While the president contracted Covid-19 in October, public health officials have stated that individuals who have had the disease should still get the vaccine, as natural immunity may wane over time.
“The president, currently at this moment, has said he is absolutely open to taking the vaccine,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Wednesday. “He’s been emphatic about that to me privately and to you all publicly. But he did recently recover from Covid.”
“He has 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.”
Under the Trump administration's distribution plan, healthcare workers began receiving the vaccine this week.
Several states have also started to vaccinate residents at long-term care facilities, and many others will follow suit next week.