Trump says only ‘some’ White House staff will get early Covid vaccines after outcry

In a partial climb-down, president suggests only those aides who need vaccines will get one 

Gino Spocchia
Monday 14 December 2020 13:47
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Coronavirus: Trump takes vaccine victory lap
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White House staffers who work close to Donald Trump will not receive coronavirus vaccines in the coming days unless “necessary”, amid backlash at plans to distribute doses to those closest to the president first.

In a Twitter post late on Sunday, Mr Trump suggested that White House staffers would no longer receive doses soon, and that instead, “People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary.”

The announcement came hours after a New York Times report said the Trump administration was planning on distributing Covid-19 vaccines to those who worked closest with Mr Trump in the West Wing, and others.

Two sources told the paper that senior aides and some top assistants, presumably, were told to prepare to receive doses soon, with a nationwide roll-out to the American due public start on Monday.  

All White House staffers were also due to receive vaccinations at some point soon, according to the Times’ report.

But, claiming he had intervened amid backlash at those plans, the US president said on Twitter he had asked to stop a large-scale roll-out at the White House, while millions would have to wait months to receive doses.

“I have asked that this adjustment be made,” wrote Mr Trump, as three million doses made their way to all 50 sates on Sunday, with Americans due to receive vaccinations starting a day later.

The vaccine, which has been produced by American pharmaceutical company Pfizer, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday. It provides up to 95% protection against Covid-19.

The president, whose administration was reported to have turned down another 100 million Pfizer vaccine doses in late summer, had also been rumoured to be in-line to receive a vaccine in the coming days, the Times reported, but said he was not due to do so.

He wrote on Twitter: “I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time.”

Mr Trump and wife Melania Trump were among high-level personnel at the White House who contracted the virus in September and October, while at least 50 other aides and senior Republicans have since contracted Covid-19.

He had claimed to be “immune” to the virus, despite no medical proof that immunity is possible, and had repeated claims it would “disappear” - all while avoiding mask wearing in public, and other US government guidance, in the past year.  

Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar was among those who criticised the White House vaccine distribution plan, and said “our frontline workers who have made the sacrifice to continue to make our country run, should be the priority”, in an appearance on CNN on Sunday. 

“The White House and their staff being prioritised in a time where so many people are being devastated by the coronvirus really is unfortunate, disappointing, & disturbing," she added. 

On Monday, more than 16,256,00 people in the United States had contracted Covid-19, and almost 300,000 had lost their lives to the disease since the pandemic started, according to John Hopkins University.

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