President Trump and top U.S. officials in all three branches of government will be offered the coronavirus vaccine this week. The purpose of this plan is to ensure continuity in government amid the pandemic.
The vaccination effort may begin as early as today with administering the shots to top personnel deemed essential. This will be spread out over ten days in order to prevent all of them from experiencing potential side effects at the same time. Public health experts are advising top government officials to take the vaccinations in order to help in the efforts to persuade Americans to get vaccinated themselves. The hope is that people will see the president or other familiar public figures receive the shot and it will ease the fears of the general population. Career national security staff are also recommending that top officials jump the line and receive some of the first vaccines.
National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot confirmed the plan in a statement late Sunday.
“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.
Public health officials are warning that skepticism of taking the vaccine may prevent a significant number of Americans from taking the vaccine. Without that, herd immunity will not be achieved. The first people to be offered the vaccines will be health care workers and residents of care homes. Many groups are jockeying to be among those at the head of the line, such as teachers, airline industry workers, and workers in meatpacking plants.
Walgreens and CVS expect to administer the first Pfizer Inc COVID-19 vaccines to residents of long-term U.S. nursing homes on December 21. Moderna vaccines should be available the following week. Chris Cox, senior vice president at CVS Health said that the delay allows time for the company to review information documents about the vaccine and get waivers from the nursing home residents and their families. Some states have opted for the Moderna vaccine and the earliest CVS can administer it is December 28.
CVS and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, which run the nation’s largest pharmacy chains but also offer other offsite pharmacy services, have an agreement with the federal government to vaccinate nursing home residents across the country through a voluntary program.
Cox said he believed all states had opted into the federal program, and CVS Pharmacy said more than 40,000 long-term care facilities had selected it as their COVID-19 vaccination provider.
CVS Chief Executive Larry Merlo said that the company has 10,000 health care professionals ready to administer the shots in nursing homes and assisted living centers. The vaccines will be free. In October the federal government struck a deal with CVS and Walgreens to administer the coronavirus vaccinations at long-term care facilities across the country. The decision of who will be given the shots first will be left up to states and jurisdictions.
CVS Health Chief Executive Larry Merlo said the company is ready to administer “vaccines into the arms of some of our most vulnerable populations” within 24 to 48 hours upon receiving its share of Covid-19 vaccines.
“We’re ready to go. We’re in great shape and as I mentioned, people are excited to be an important part of this solution,” Merlo said Thursday in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Merlo expressed confidence that residents in long term care facilities will be vaccinated before Christmas. Over 40,000 long-term care facilities across the U.S. have selected CVS to administer vaccinations at their long-term care facilities. Walgreens has been selected by about 30,000 long-term care facilities nationwide.
It makes sense that the most vulnerable receive the shots first. For those who squawk about President Trump and top officials getting the vaccine first, it is important to remember that the country’s top leadership has to be protected as best as possible for government continuity. And, Trump is good at putting on a White House event – he should take advantage of that and receive a shot on camera. He and Vice-President Pence can lead by example.