President-elect Joe Biden received the second course of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine Monday afternoon, as his Jan. 20 inauguration nears.
The second dose of Biden’s vaccination comes nine days before his pared-down swearing-in ceremony. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is also due for her second course before she assumes office.
It’s still unclear how much of the inauguration will consist of virtual events — following in the style of the Democratic National Convention last August — versus in-person festivities. The usual celebratory tone of a presidential inauguration, with musical performances, black-tie galas and parades, appeared unlikely amid a pandemic, with growing death tolls, overrun hospitals and slower-than-expected vaccine rollouts.
The president-elect told the small pool of reporters gathered at a Newark, Del., hospital that he wasn’t worried about an outdoor inauguration, despite the violent storming of the Capitol last week by Trump supporters and record-high COVID infection rates.
Biden’s vaccination also comes amid growing frustration expressed by his coronavirus team over the Trump administration’s failure to deliver on a promise to administer 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2020. Administration officials later scaled back that promise to 20 million. Yet only slightly more than 4 million vaccines have been administered, saddling the incoming team with yet another game of catch-up in an already delayed transition process.
The Biden team plans to detail an overhaul of the vaccine distribution process later this week, which is expected to include the decision to release every available dose of the coronavirus vaccine immediately after he takes office. This strategy is a clean break with President Trump’s policy, which has held back half of the domestic vaccine production to ensure the availability of second doses.
“Three or four thousand people dying a day is beyond the pale,” Biden said after receiving his shot. He told reporters that more details of his plan would come on Thursday.
A member of Biden’s COVID-19 advisory team stressed to CNN that their strategy is not at odds with the second-dose timelines laid out by Moderna and Pfizer, implying trust in the vaccine supply chain through the rest of the year.
It is still unclear how exactly this accelerated rollout would take place, though those questions might be answered before the end of the month.
Vice President Mike Pence and several high-profile members of Congress in both parties have already received and publicized their respective vaccinations. Trump, who contracted the coronavirus in October, has not yet received the vaccine. He previously — and erroneously — proclaimed himself immune to the virus after recovering in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
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