White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Monday that personnel in the White House situation room and certain members of Congress would receive early access to the coronavirus vaccine, after President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE halted plans to deliver some of the first doses to high-ranking staffers.
“What the president decided is, look, front-line workers need to come first. Our residents in long-term care facilities need to come first,” McEnany said on Fox News. “We will still have continuity of government. Key officials like Situation Room staff, among others, will have access to this vaccine, certain members of Congress.”
The New York Times first reported on Sunday that senior White House officials would be among the first to receive doses of the coronavirus vaccine. A National Security Council spokesman defended the plan, saying it was meant to satisfy continuity of government protocols laid out in executive policy.
Trump, however, reversed course late Sunday night, tweeting that White House officials “should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary.”
“I have asked that this adjustment be made. I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time,” Trump tweeted. “Thank you!”
McEnany’s remarks seem to clarify which officials would be deemed necessary to receive access to the vaccine early on. The White House Situation Room is a high-security room in the White House basement that is staffed with national security personnel at all hours. It is unclear which members of Congress could receive priority doses of the vaccine.
The United States began vaccinating Americans against the novel coronavirus on Monday, after states received the first shipments of the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech that was authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are currently surging in the U.S. to daily levels above 200,000, underscoring the continuing threat posed by the virus despite the bright spot of news about the vaccine.