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Pence receives coronavirus vaccine on camera

Pence receives coronavirus vaccine on camera
© Getty Images

Vice President Pence on Friday received the coronavirus vaccine on live television, making him the first White House official to do so.

Pence, the leader of the White House coronavirus task force, received the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech a week after it was approved in a major milestone in the battle against the coronavirus. He did so publicly, at an event in the White House Friday morning, in order to help build public confidence in the vaccine and assure Americans of its safety and efficacy.

“We gather here today at the end of a historic week to affirm to the American people that hope is on the way,” Pence said in remarks after receiving the vaccine, assuring the public that while the officials “cut red tape” to quickly produce the vaccine, they “cut no corners.”

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Second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PencePence buys .9M home in Indiana There is no pandemic recovery plan without the arts and culture Karen Pence confirms move back to Indiana: 'No place like home' MORE and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsIndiana county ends needle exchange program credited with containing an HIV outbreak Fauci: Americans 'misinterpreting' mask rules Former surgeon general: CDC 'fumbled the ball at the one-yard line' with new mask guidance messaging MORE also received doses at the event on Friday. Medical technicians from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center administered the vaccine. The officials sat in front of television screens that read “Safe and Effective” and “Operation Warp Speed,” the Trump administration’s vaccine program.

Pence in his remarks said he “didn’t feel a thing” and commended the medical professionals for their work. He described the week as the “beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic” but said that the country nevertheless has a “ways to go,” acknowledging the current rising cases and hospitalizations across the country amid the holiday season.

“Vigilance and the vaccine is our way through, and building confidence in the vaccine is what brings us here this morning,” Pence said.

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciNevada man present at Capitol insurrection announces gubernatorial bid Overnight Health Care: US surpasses 600K COVID-19 deaths | Federal watchdog to examine NIH grants, likely including Wuhan funding CDC labels highly transmissible delta strain a COVID-19 'variant of concern' MORE, the top U.S. infectious disease expert and a member of the task force, delivered brief remarks to dispel concerns about the government moving too quickly on the vaccine and urged Americans who are eligible to receive it.

“Over a period of months as opposed to years, we saw the development in record time of a vaccine that is shown to be safe and effective,” Fauci said. “We want virtually everyone eligible to get the vaccine.”

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The vaccine program has been a bright point in the Trump administration’s otherwise widely criticized response to the virus. President TrumpDonald TrumpNorth Carolina Senate passes trio of election measures 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday Border state governors rebel against Biden's immigration chaos MORE, who was not on hand for Friday’s event, has been scrutinized for his rhetoric downplaying the threat from the virus and his decision to hold large gatherings at the White House and on the campaign trail throughout the pandemic.  

Shortly after Pence spoke, Trump retweeted a conservative commentator questioning the efficacy of masks and business closures to fight the virus. 

Pence invoked Trump a handful of times on Friday, repeating Trump’s phrase that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” on the virus as vaccines are distributed across the country.

“We are rounding the corner. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Pence said. “After a year of heartbreak and hardship, the American people can be encouraged.”

The Food and Drug Administration is poised to give emergency use authorization to a vaccine produced by Moderna, after an expert panel endorsed it on Thursday.

States are responsible for deciding which Americans receive the vaccine first, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that officials prioritize health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Officials have anticipated that the general public will not begin receiving the vaccine until at least the springtime.

It is unclear when and how Trump will receive the vaccine, though he has indicated he plans to receive it. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters earlier this week that he was following the advice of his doctors. Trump was diagnosed with and recovered from the coronavirus in October.

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenJapan to possibly ease COVID-19 restrictions before Olympics 14 Republicans vote against making Juneteenth a federal holiday China supplies millions of vaccine doses to developing nations in Asia MORE, who will take office in just over a month and will take control of the coronavirus response, plans to receive the vaccine publicly as soon as next week. Former presidents from both parties have also pledged to receive the vaccine in public in order to build confidence in it. 

Updated at 9:07 a.m.