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Trump says he will reverse plan for early vaccine at White House

Administration officials were listed to receive their jabs early in the vaccination programme.

featureimage Source: Associated Press

DONALD TRUMP HAS said he will reverse an administration directive to vaccinate top government officials against Covid-19 while the jab is distributed first to frontline health workers and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

The president made the announcement hours after his administration confirmed senior US officials, including White House aides who work in close proximity to Trump and vice president Mike Pence, would be offered coronavirus vaccines as soon as this week under federal continuity of government plans.

“People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary,” Trump said in a tweet.

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.

It was not immediately clear what the scale of the vaccination programme was supposed to be, according to two people briefed on the matter, or what effect Trump’s tweet would have on the government’s efforts to protect senior leadership.

News that White House staff would receive the vaccine early drew criticism on social media.

Trump and his aides have consistently flouted the Covid-19 guidelines issued by his own administration, including hosting large holiday parties with maskless attendees this December.

Officials said earlier on Sunday that doses of the newly approved vaccine from Pfizer would be made available to those who work in close quarters with the nation’s top leaders.

They said the move was meant to prevent more Covid-19 spread in the White House and other critical facilities. Trump was admitted to hospital with the virus for three days in October.

“Senior officials across all three branches of government will receive vaccinations pursuant to continuity of government protocols established in executive policy,” National Security Council spokesperson John Ulyot had said.

“The American people should have confidence that they are receiving the same safe and effective vaccine as senior officials of the United States government on the advice of public health professionals and national security leadership.”

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The move to vaccinate leading US officials would be consistent with the rollout of rapid testing machines for the coronavirus, which were similarly controlled by the federal government with kits reserved to protect the White House complex and other critical facilities.

According to guidance from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is not yet enough information to determine whether those who have had Covid-19 should also receive the vaccine.

Pence has not come down with the virus, and his aides have been discussing when and how he should receive the vaccine as the administration looks to boost public confidence in the shot.

election-2020-senate-georgia-pence Source: AP/PA Images

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses administered three weeks apart, meaning Trump administration officials would receive the final shot just weeks before leaving office.

Aides to President-elect Joe Biden have been discussing when and how he should receive the vaccine and have been working to establish plans to boost virus safeguards in the West Wing to keep the 78-year-old Democrat healthy.

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