Trump, Pence and other top officials to be offered COVID-19 vaccine: source

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other senior U.S. officials will be offered the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday as part of a plan to ensure the continuity of the government, a source close to the plans told me.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump is joined by Vice President Mike Pence as he speaks during a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti at the White House in Washington, United States, September 4, 2020. REUTERS / Leah Millis

Essential White House staff and some officials from all three branches of government were to be vaccinated within 10 days, the source said.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump would receive the vaccine immediately, given that he has already contracted the new coronavirus and has recovered.

It was also not clear whether President-elect Joe Biden, Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris and other members of Biden’s transition team would be offered vaccines.

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee on Saturday recommended the country’s first COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE, as the U.S. COVID-19 death toll exceeded 298,000.

Doses of the vaccine will reach 145 locations across the country on Monday, with initial doses aimed at healthcare workers and elderly residents of long-term care homes.

National Security Council spokesperson John Ullyot said senior executive, congressional and justice officials will also receive vaccinations in accordance with a protocol to ensure the U.S. government can continue to function for a pandemic or catastrophic emergency.

“The American people need to be sure 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 leaders,” Ullyot said in a statement.

A senior administration official said that a comprehensive “national continuity policy” was established by the administration of former President Barack Obama in July 2016.

“It will further ensure that the United States government continues essential operations, without disruption, for our citizens as we continue to fight this pandemic and work towards a return to prosperity for our nation,” the official said. .

Reporting by Steve Holland and David Shepardson; Written by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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