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

WASHINGTON, Dec 14 -President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other top U.S. officials will be offered the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine beginning on Monday as part of a plan aimed at ensuring continuity of government, a source familiar with the plan said.

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

Essential personnel at the White House and certain officials in all three branches of government were to be vaccinated within the next 10 days, said the source.

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

In September, Pence told the Hill newspaper: “The very moment that it’s appropriate for somebody in my category to get a vaccine, you better believe it. I, and my family, wouldn’t hesitate.”

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 vaccinations.

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

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

National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said senior officials in the executive branch, Congress and judiciary would also receive vaccinations in line with a protocol aimed at ensuring the U.S. government can continue to operate during a pandemic or catastrophic emergency.

“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 in a statement.

A senior administration official said a comprehensive “National Continuity Policy” was established by the administration of former President Barack Obama in July 2016.

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

Source (Reuters)

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