Donald Trump has said he would reverse a government order to vaccinate top government officials against Covid-19 by first administering the vaccine to nursing homes and long-term care facilities for frontline health care staff and residents.
The President made the announcement hours after his administration announced that, as part of the federal continuity of government plans, high-level U.S. officials, including White House workers working in close proximity to Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, will obtain a coronavirus vaccine as early as this week.
“People who work in the White House should receive the vaccine a little later in the program unless specifically required,” Mr. Trump said in a tweet. “I have asked that this adjustment be made. I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but I look forward to doing so in due course.”
According to two individuals who are aware of the matter, it was not immediately clear what the nature of the vaccination program will be, or what effect Mr. Trump’s tweet would have on the administration’s efforts to protect senior leadership.
Social media criticism was triggered by the news that White House workers would receive the vaccine earlier.
Mr. Trump and his staff have repeatedly flouted Covid’s 19 rules provided by his own government, including this December’s hosting of massive Christmas parties with maskless guests.
Earlier Sunday, officials said doses of Pfizer’s newly approved vaccine will be made available to those who work in close proximity to top politicians in the country.
They said the move was intended to avoid further spread at the White House and other vital facilities of Covid-19. Mr. Trump was hospitalized in October with the virus for three days.
“Senior officials in all three branches of government will receive vaccinations in accordance with continuity of government protocols set forth in executive policy,” said National Security Council spokesman John Ulyot.
“The American people should be confident that, on the advice of public health professionals and national security leadership, they will receive the same safe and effective vaccine as senior U.S. government officials.”
The move to vaccinate senior U.S. officials will be consistent with the introduction of rapid coronavirus testing, similarly regulated by the federal government, with kits reserved to secure the complex and other essential facilities of the White House.
There is not yet sufficient evidence to decide if anyone who had Covid-19 could still receive the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
Mr. Pence has not contracted the virus, and while the government tries to raise public trust in vaccines, his advisors have debated when and how he should obtain the vaccine.
Pfizer’s vaccine needs two doses given three weeks apart, ensuring the final shot will be given to Trump administration officials only weeks before leaving office.
President-elect Joe Biden’s advisors debated when and how to get the vaccine and worked to put in place measures to improve viral security in the West Wing to keep the 78-year-old Democrat protected.