President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. received the coronavirus vaccine on live television on Monday at the Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., sending a message to Americans across the country that the vaccine is safe to take.
“Left’s good,” he told the nurse practitioner who administered the vaccine, rolling up the sleeve of his black long-sleeve turtleneck and exposing his left arm. “You just go ahead anytime you’re ready.”
He credited the Trump administration for its work on Operation Warp Speed, which helped to deliver a quick vaccine.
“The administration deserves some credit getting this off the ground,” he said. “I’m doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared when it’s available to take the vaccine.”
Mr. Biden, however, warned Americans that vigilance in the coming months was still necessary.
“It’s going to take time,” he said, encouraging people to continue to wear masks and socially distance. “If you don’t have to travel, don’t travel,” he said. “It’s really important.”
He thanked health care workers, calling them heroes, and ended with an awkward elbow bump with Tabe Masa, the nurse practitioner who administered to him the first course of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, received the vaccine privately, earlier in the day on Monday, according to a spokesman, and joined him at the hospital.
Since March, Mr. Biden’s team has been taking public health guidelines about social distancing and masks seriously, as President Trump and his aides have willfully disregarded them. But even Mr. Biden’s more careful circle has been infiltrated by the virus. Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana and one of Mr. Biden’s closest advisers, tested positive for the coronavirus last week, the transition team announced.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is expected to receive her vaccine after Christmas, a spokeswoman said, following advice from doctors who recommended Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris stagger their first shots rather than receive them together.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert who will also be Mr. Biden’s chief medical adviser, will be vaccinated at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at what the National Institutes of Health is billing as a “kick off” event showcasing Moderna’s vaccine, which received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday.
Dr. Fauci’s vaccination has been long-awaited by public figures and health experts. Former President Barack Obama recently said that if Dr. Fauci endorses a coronavirus vaccine, that will be a signal to him that it is safe.
Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, all received the first dose of the vaccine on Friday.
Mr. Trump, however, has neither participated in nor supported the public health campaign to reassure vaccine skeptics worried about its dangers.
On Friday, he did nothing to promote Mr. Pence taking the vaccine, an event held at the White House that officials asked all of the television networks to carry live on TV for maximum exposure. Instead, Mr. Trump was tweeting out anti-mask claims minutes after Mr. Pence received his vaccine.
Some of Mr. Trump’s advisers have defended his decision to put off his own vaccination, arguing that he still has the protective effects of the monoclonal antibody cocktail that was used to treat him for the virus in October.
But doctors have said it would set a good example to Americans who have recovered from Covid-19 that they still should receive the vaccine.
“We know that infection doesn’t induce a very strong immune response and it wanes over time,” Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser of Operation Warp Speed, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “So I think, as a clear precaution, it is appropriate to be vaccinated because it’s safe. I think people should be vaccinated, indeed.”
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