Vice President Mike Pence is set to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the White House on Friday, officials announced Wednesday, making him the highest-ranking person in government to receive a dosage.
Pence and second lady Karen Pence are expected to get the vaccine in public before media “to promote the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and build confidence among the American people,” his office said in a statement.
The couple will be joined by Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who will also take the vaccine. The news was first reported by Axios.
Earlier this week, the White House had said that members of the administration would be among the first people to get the long-awaited coronavirus vaccination, which rolled out from Pfizer’s Michigan facility on Sunday to be distributed among the 50 states. That news seemed to prompt a change of direction from President Donald Trump, who tweeted that White House staffers would instead get vaccinated “somewhat later.”
“People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary. I have asked that this adjustment be made,” he tweeted. “I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time.”
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about when the president, who was infected with COVID-19 in October, would take the vaccine.
News of the Pences receiving their vaccine came the same day a record 3,400 deaths were reported by the COVID Tracking Project.
More than 306,000 people in the US have died of COVID-19 across the US; for months, the White House officials have mismanaged the outbreak and downplayed the deadly impact of the virus.
Multiple news outlets, including CNN, Reuters, and the Associated Press, reported on Wednesday that President-elect Joe Biden was also set to receive the first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine early next week.
Talking to reporters in Delaware on Wednesday, Biden said, “I don’t want to get ahead of the line, but I want to make sure we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take.”
Biden has said that when he takes the vaccine, he would also do so publicly.
Despite the rising death toll, there have been concerns that many Americans, fueled by conspiracy theories surrounding the pandemic, would not take the new vaccine.
A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation released this week stated that 71% of those surveyed said they would take the vaccine, an increase from 63% back in September.
However, the politicization of the pandemic, including massive rallies opposing social distancing guidelines and mask requirements, suggests many Americans might continue to reject taking the vaccine even as it becomes available to more people.