By Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland | Reuters
WILMINGTON, Del./WASHINGTON – P resident-elect Joe Biden will get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as next week, transition officials said on Wednesday, as U.S. authorities try to build public confidence in a measure that promises to stanch the deadly pandemic.
Vice President Mike Pence will get the vaccine on Friday, the White House said.
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.
President Donald Trump will get the vaccine himself as soon as his medical team determines it is best, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Tuesday.
Initial doses of the vaccine, which became available this week, have been set aside for doctors, nurses and other frontline medical workers, along with residents and staff of nursing homes and some U.S. government officials.
U.S. officials aim to get 2.9 million doses of the vaccine, developed by Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE, by week’s end.
At least 304,187 Americans have died of the disease, according to a Reuters tally, and 16.7 million have been infected – roughly 5% of the population.
Pence’s wife, Karen, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams also will get the vaccine on Friday, the White House said.
The news comes as Biden is building his incoming administration before he takes office on Jan. 20.
On Wednesday, he introduced former presidential rival Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday as his choice for U.S. transportation secretary to take the lead in upgrading America’s aging infrastructure.
Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, would be the first openly gay Cabinet secretary confirmed by the Senate if he is approved.
“The Biden-Harris Cabinet will be a historic Cabinet – a Cabinet that looks like America, a Cabinet that taps into the best of America, a Cabinet that is opening doors and breaking down barriers and accessing the full range of talent … in this nation,” Biden said as he puts forth what is shaping up to be the most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history.
Appearing with Buttigieg in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said the 38-year-old would confront the task of restoring what he called “our crumbling roads, bridges and ports.” Biden has proposed a massive boost in infrastructure spending.
Buttigieg emerged from relative obscurity to mount a surprisingly robust campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination eventually won by Biden. A military veteran who served in Afghanistan, Buttigieg is in the vanguard of the next generation of Democratic politicians and is widely seen as a future presidential contender.
“I’m also mindful that the eyes of history are on this appointment, knowing that this is the first time an American president has ever sent an openly LGBTQ Cabinet member to the Senate for confirmation,” Buttigieg said.