President-elect Joe Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, joining in the effort to reassure Americans that the vaccines are safe and effective, a crucial step in ending the pandemic that has killed more than 318,000 Americans.
Biden received the vaccine on live TV at a hospital in Newark, Delaware, saying he was doing it to show there is “nothing to worry about” and that Americans should get vaccinated once they can. He also thanked the scientists and healthcare workers for their efforts in inventing and distributing the vaccine, calling them heroes.
“We owe you big,” he said. “We really do.”
Still, Biden urged that “this is just the beginning,” and said Americans should continue to take precautions to stop the virus’s spread, especially with the Christmas and New Year’s holidays coming up.
“Wear a mask, socially distance, and if you don’t have to travel, don’t travel,” Biden said. “It’s really important because we’re still in the thick of this.”
Biden is now one in a growing group of public officials who have been vaccinated, including Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
President Trump — who has both praised himself for the vaccine’s speedy development and spread conspiracy theories claiming the FDA delayed its approval so he’d lose the election — has not yet received the vaccine or said when he would.
Thousands of healthcare workers have also already been vaccinated, the largest group of Americans to have early access to the vaccine. On Sunday, a CDC panel voted to recommend that adults over 75 and essential workers, including teachers and grocery store workers, should be the next group to be vaccinated.
Biden’s vaccination comes on the same day that the Moderna vaccine, a second highly effective COVID-19 vaccine, begins its distribution after being authorized by the FDA on Friday.
Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, was vaccinated live on TV Friday. He praised and credited his task force with the vaccine’s arrival.
“From early on, President Trump gave the White House coronavirus task force one mission and that was to save lives,” Pence said. “And in the midst of one of the most challenging years in the life of this nation, I truly do believe that despite the heartbreak and hardship that we have endured as a nation that we have done just that.”
In reality, the Trump administration has repeatedly failed to take the necessary steps to get the virus under control, and has even denied the health disaster is as deadly as it is. In June, Pence wrote an op-ed denying a second wave was coming, and he, Trump, and many other White House officials have at times refused to wear masks and even mocked those who do.
“The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different,” Pence wrote in the op-ed. “The truth is, whatever the media says, our whole-of-America approach has been a success.”