Many Americans were unhappy when National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot issued a statement Sunday (Nov. 13) saying that the White House staff would be among the first people to get the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Chelsea Clinton, however, was not. The 40-year-old daughter of Hillary Clinton tweeted the support for the move on Monday (Nov. 14) while sharing a clip of Dr. Celine Grounder, an infectious disease expert, on CNN. “Completely agree with @celinegounder. If we expect @WhiteHouse staff to manage #covid19, they are then critical workers in this moment. We also need the Americans who listen to [Donald Trump] to see his & his team’s vote of confidence in the vaccine by being vaccinated.”
Completely agree with @celinegounder. If we expect @WhiteHouse staff to manage #covid19, they are then critical workers in this moment. We also need the Americans who listen to @realDonaldTrump to see his & his team’s vote of confidence in the vaccine by being vaccinated.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) December 14, 2020
Chelsea was echoing Dr. Grounder’s comments that Trump, 74, and his staff getting inoculated might quell any fears from anti-vaxxers who might not trust this new vaccine. “I think this is an incredible testament to the fact that the president and the White House staff trust and have confidence in the procedure that the FDA followed to vet the science to review the safety and efficacy of the vaccine,” she said. “I think this demonstrates that they, too, trust that the vaccine is safe and effective. Effective at preventing disease, at preventing themselves from getting sick. So, I think this is actually a really strong show of confidence that many people need to see right now.”
The whole debacle happened Sunday when National Security spokesman Ullyot said that “senior officials across all three branches of government will receive vaccinations pursuant to continuity of government protocols established in executive policy,” per NPR. Ullyot cited the 2016 National Continuity Policy, a directive that calls for providing the executive branch “personnel with the appropriate resources to perform their prescribed continuity roles and responsibilities,” as why the White House staff should get the vaccine first.
People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary. I have asked that this adjustment be made. I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 14, 2020
However, shortly afterward this statement, President Trump reversed the decision. “People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary,” the sitting-president tweeted. “I have asked that this adjustment be made. I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time. Thank you!”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorization for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine late last week, per NPR. Pfizer has run tests that included more than 44,000 people, and the FDA analysis on people aged 16 and older found “no specific safety concerns.” There are some mild side effects — swelling, pain, redness at the injection site, fatigue and sometimes fever” that resolve within about 24 hours. 2.9 million doses are expected to be issued for the first week, and NPR has information on when you can expect to get vaccinated, when life can return to “normal,” and more info.