President-elect Joe Biden will get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as next week, as US authorities try to build public confidence in a measure that promises to staunch the deadly pandemic.
Vice President Mike Pence will get the vaccine on Friday.
Both men will receive the shot publicly in an effort to boost confidence in the safety of the vaccine, which will become widely available to the public next year.
“I don’t want to get ahead of the line but I want to make sure that we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take,” Biden said on Wednesday.
The 78-year-old is in a high-risk category because of his age.
Biden has vowed to make the fight against the virus his top priority when he takes office on January 20.
President Donald Trump has frequently downplayed the severity of the pandemic, which has killed 304,187 Americans so far, and feuded with his top public health officials.
He will get the vaccine himself as soon as his medical team determines it is best, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Tuesday.
The president was hospitalised after testing positive for COVID-19.
Initial doses of the vaccine, which became available in the United States this week, have been set aside for doctors, nurses and other frontline medical workers, along with residents and staff of nursing homes and some US government officials.
Autorities aim to get 2.9 million doses, developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE , by week’s end.
One health worker in Alaska had a severe allergic reaction after receiving the vaccine, officials said on Wednesday in what is believed to be the only adverse reaction so far in the United States.
Meanwhhile, the US Food and Drug Administration said extra doses from vials of Pfizer’s vaccine can be used after reports of doses being thrown away by pharmacists due to labeling confusion.
Stat News reported that hospital pharmacists found themselves in the position of throwing away one in every six doses of the first Pfizer-BioNTech batch because of the confusion over labeling.
The Pfizer vials are supposed to hold five doses, according to the labeling, but media reports said pharmacists had found a way for a sixth or even a seventh dose.
Without clear approval from the manufacturer, the extra dose had to be discarded.
“At this time, given the public health emergency, FDA is advising that it is acceptable to use every full dose obtainable (the sixth, or possibly even a seventh) from each vial, pending resolution of the issue,” an FDA representative said, allaying concerns.
Pence’s wife, Karen, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams also will get the vaccine on Friday, the White House said.
Biden’s transition team did not say when Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would get the vaccine.