NEWARK, DELAWARE (AP) — United States (US) President-elect Joe Biden on Monday received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on live television as part of a growing effort to convince the American public the inoculations are safe.
The president-elect took a dose of Pfizer vaccine at a hospital not far from his Delaware home, hours after his wife Jill Biden did the same.
The injections came the same day that a second vaccine, produced by Moderna, will start arriving in states. It joins Pfizer’s in the US’ arsenal against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am ready,” said Biden, who was administered the dose at a hospital in Newark, Delaware. The president-elect rolled the left sleeve of his turtleneck up to his shoulder, then declined the option to count to three before the needle was inserted into his left arm.
“You just go ahead anytime you are ready,” he told the nurse practitioner who administered the shot.
Biden emphasised the safety of the vaccine, and said President Donald Trump’s administration “deserves some credit” for getting the vaccine distribution process “off the ground”.
“I am doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared when it is available to take the vaccine,” he added. “There is nothing to worry about.”
He noted, however, that distributing the vaccine is “going to take time”, and urged Americans to take precautions during the holiday season to avoid the spread of the virus, including wearing masks.
“If you do not have to travel, do not travel,” he said. “It is really important.”
Biden also thanked healthcare workers, and offered praise and an elbow bump to Tabe Mase, the nurse practitioner who administered his first dose of the vaccine.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband are expected to receive their first shots next week.
Other top government officials have been in the first wave of Americans to be inoculated against COVID-19 as part of the largest vaccination campaign in the nation’s history.
Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other lawmakers were given doses on Friday. They chose to publicise their injections as part of a campaign to convince Americans that the vaccines are safe and effective amid scepticism, especially among Republicans.
President Donald Trump is discussing with his doctors the timing for taking the vaccine, the White House has said. He tweeted earlier this month that he was “not scheduled” to take the vaccine but that he looked “forward to doing so at the appropriate time”.
The White House offered another reason for waiting, saying Trump was showing support for the most vulnerable to get the vaccine first.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, and other experts recommended that Trump be vaccinated without delay as a precaution.