By ZEKE MILLER and JILL COLVIN
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence was vaccinated for COVID-19 on Friday in a live-television event aimed at reassuring Americans the vaccine is safe.
In remarks after his shot, Pence called the speed with which the vaccine was developed “a medical miracle.”
“The American people can be confident: we have one and perhaps within hours two” safe vaccines,” Pence said, referring to expected FDA approval for Moderna’s vaccine. Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine was the first to be approved.
“Building confidence in the vaccine is what brings us here this morning,” he added.
Pence’s wife Karen and Surgeon General Jerome Adams also received shots during the televised White House event.
President Donald Trump’s administration helped deliver vaccinations against the coronavirus earlier than even some in his administration thought possible, launching Operation Warp Speed — the government campaign to help swiftly develop and distribute vaccines — this spring with great fanfare in the White House Rose Garden.
But five days into the largest vaccination campaign in the nation’s history, Trump has held no public events to trumpet the rollout. He hasn’t been inoculated himself. He has tweeted only twice about the shot. Pence, meanwhile, has taken center stage — touring a vaccine production facility this week and receiving a dose himself on live television Friday morning.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both said Thursday that they will get vaccinated in the next few days.
Trump’s relative silence comes as he continues to stew about his defeat in the Nov. 3 election and embraces increasingly extreme efforts to overturn the people’s will. He’s pushed aside the plans of aides who wanted him to be the public face of the vaccination campaign, eschewing visits to labs and production facilities to thank workers, or hosting efforts to build public confidence in the shot, according to people familiar with the conversations.
The sheepish approach has been surprising, especially for a president rarely shy to take credit, said Lawrence Gostin, a professor at Georgetown Law who focuses on public health.
“The President’s relatively low profile on the COVID response since the election is curious and counter to Mr. Trump’s own interests,” he said. Gostin, who has criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic in the past, said that he “deserves a great deal of credit” for Operation Warp Speed and placing a bet on two vaccines that use groundbreaking mRNA technology.
“Having exhibited leadership in the vaccines’ development, he should take great pride in publicly demonstrating his trust in COVID vaccines,” he said.