Pelosi and McConnell obtain Pfizer Covid vaccine

House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will receive a COVID-19 vaccination from Dr Drs on December 18, 2020 in her office on Capitol Hill in Washington. Brian Monahan (R), attending physician for United States Congress, DC.

Ken Cedeno | Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell received the Covid vaccine from Pfizer on Friday after the attending physician in Congress asked lawmakers to enroll.

The doctor, Dr. Brian Monahan, cited federal guidelines designed to ensure the U.S. government works during the pandemic.

Senior US government officials have already started receiving the vaccine. Vice President Mike Pence, his wife Karen and Surgeon General Jerome Adams streamed the recording live on national television Friday morning.

However, the general public is not expected to receive the vaccine for months as doses remain limited while Pfizer ramping up production. Moderna’s vaccine could get emergency approval as early as Friday. Congress is currently negotiating an aid package from Covid, which is expected to provide billions of dollars for vaccine distribution.

Monahan, who is also present as a doctor on the Supreme Court, said the National Security Council had told him that Congress, the court and executive agencies would be given a small number of vaccine doses for necessary staff.

“My recommendation to you is absolutely clear: there is no reason why you should postpone receiving this vaccine,” Monahan told Congress in a letter on Thursday. “The benefits far outweigh any small risk.”

Monahan stressed in his letter that “the small number of COVID19 vaccine doses that are being made available to us reflects a fraction of the first batch of vaccines being distributed across the country”. The US logistics plans for the first week of the vaccine rollout include 2.9 million doses for locations in all 50 states.

Monahan administered the vaccine to Pelosi, D-Calif. Friday after the House spokeswoman said she would follow the doctor’s instructions and receive the shot. In a press release on Thursday, she urged President Donald Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to expedite manufacturing and ensure the equitable distribution of the vaccine to as many Americans as possible.

McConnell, a polio survivor, also received the shot on Friday, calling the vaccine safe and effective. In a statement Thursday, the Kentucky Republican expressed concern that polls show that a quarter of adults in the US are unsure whether they will receive the vaccine when it becomes available.

“As a polio survivor, I know both the fear of disease and the extraordinary promise of hope that vaccines bring,” said McConnell. “I really hope that all Kentuckians and Americans will take this advice and accept this safe and effective vaccine.”

More than 100 members of Congress have either quarantined, tested positive, or been exposed to someone with Covid, according to GovTrack. When the vaccine launches and members of Congress sign up for the shot, they still haven’t reached an agreement on an aid package from Covid that would include billions of dollars to distribute the vaccine. Members of a CDC advisory panel have warned that state and local governments will need more money to administer the vaccines.

The US government and 50 states are rationing the distribution of the vaccine over multiple phases, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the first phase, frontline health workers and residents of long-term care facilities, which have about 40% of deaths in Covid, will be given the vaccine. A CDC advisory panel will meet on Sunday to set guidelines on who should get the shot in the next stage of vaccinations.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that the White House had planned to quickly distribute the vaccine to west wing workers who are in close contact with the president. Trump, who contracted the virus and was hospitalized for several days in October, announced hours after the Times report that he had adjusted the plan and that White House workers would receive the vaccine later in the program.

“I don’t plan to take the vaccine, but I look forward to doing so in due course,” the president said in a Twitter post.

At least 52 people linked to Trump and the White House have contracted coronavirus in recent months as senior officials, including the president, violate CDC’s guidelines on social distancing.

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