WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Donald Trump suggested late Sunday that senior White House officials would wait longer for COVID-19 vaccines hours after media outlets reported senior officials were to receive doses within 10 days.
Late Sunday night, Trump said on Twitter he had asked for an “adjustment” to be made to the plans to vaccinate White House officials.
“People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary,” Trump wrote, adding: “I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time.”
Reuters reported earlier Sunday that Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other top U.S. officials would be offered the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine beginning on Monday as part of a plan aimed at ensuring continuity of government, a source familiar with the plan said.
Essential personnel at the White House and certain officials in all three branches of government were set to be vaccinated within the next 10 days, said the source.
Trump previously contracted the novel coronavirus and recovered. Many White House officials have already had COVID-19, potentially dampening their need for quick access to the vaccine.
National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said before Trump’s tweet that senior officials in the executive branch, Congress and judiciary would receive vaccinations in line with a protocol aimed at ensuring the U.S. government can continue to operate during a pandemic or catastrophic emergency.
“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,” Ullyot said in a statement.
It was also not clear whether President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and other members of Biden’s transition team would be offered vaccinations.
In September, Pence told the Hill newspaper: “The very moment that it’s appropriate for somebody in my category to get a vaccine, you better believe it. I, and my family, wouldn’t hesitate.”
A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel on Saturday recommended the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, as the U.S. COVID-19 death toll topped 298,000.
Doses of the vaccine will reach 145 locations across the country on Monday, with initial shots to go to healthcare workers and elderly residents of long-term care homes.
A senior administration official said a comprehensive “National Continuity Policy” was established by the administration of former President Barack Obama in July 2016.
“This will further ensure that the United States government will continue essential operations, without interruption, for our citizens as we continue to fight this pandemic and work toward a return to prosperity for our nation,” the official said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and David Shepardson; Writing by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Robert Birsel and Kenneth Maxwell)