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December 18, 2020

Mike Pence receives Pfizer shot to assure public that COVID-19 vaccines are safe

The vice president is the highest ranking U.S. official to get inoculated against the coronavirus

Vice President Mike Pence received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on live television Friday morning — making him the highest-ranking U.S. official to roll up his sleeve to promote public confidence in its safety. 

"I didn't feel a thing. Well done," Pence said after receiving his shot in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington beneath a sign that read "SAFE and EFFECTIVE."

A medical team from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center gave second lady Karen Pence and Surgeon General Jerome Adams the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next, NBC News reported. 

Pence said he hopes his vote of confidence goes a long way – public confidence has improved since clinical trial data indicated the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and highly effective. But some people remain hesitant. False rumors and myths about the COVID-19 vaccine have circulated through the internet and caused anxiety about getting the shot.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use last week, kickstarting a massive vaccination rollout. The FDA also has said it will authorize Moderna's vaccine. 

"Karen and I wanted to step forward and take this vaccine to assure the American people that while we cut red tape, we cut no corners," Pence said. "Thanks to the great work at the National Institutes of Health, and the great and careful work of the FDA and the leadership of our president and Operation Warp Speed, the American people can be confident we have one, and perhaps within hours, two safe and effective coronavirus vaccines for you and your family." 

Pence's vaccination was trending on Twitter Friday morning, having generated more than 100,000 tweets.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nations' leading infectious disease expert, and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, were present for the vaccination, USA Today reported.

Last week, Fauci said the nation's top leaders, including President Trump, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, should be among the first vaccinated.

It is not yet known when Trump will receive the vaccine. Trump, who contracted and recovered from the coronavirus in October, said he looks forward to getting the vaccine "at the appropriate time," according to NBC. 

Biden is slated to get the vaccine next week. 

"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 said.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama also have committed to allowing cameras to film them receiving the vaccine, a joint effort aimed at building public confidence in the shot. 

Vaccines are being rolled out at a critical time, though it will take many months to bring the pandemic under control.

COVID-19 cases and deaths are regularly topping record highs as the second surge rages on. More than 310,000 people have died from the virus nationwide, and it has infected more than 17.2 million people. In Pennsylvania, there have been nearly 530,000 infections and more than 13,000 deaths.

Vaccinations began in Pennsylvania earlier this week. The state received 97,500 doses to distribute everywhere but Philadelphia. The city is getting its vaccines directly from the federal government. It received 13,650 in its first tranche.

Both Pennsylvania and Philadelphia have rolled out phased vaccination plans that prioritize health care workers, nursing home residents and essential workers. 

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