US President Donald Trump has reversed a plan for White House officials to receive a coronavirus vaccine in the coming days.
Earlier, his administration had said that doses of the newly approved vaccine from Pfizer would be made available to those who work in close quarters with the nation’s top leaders. They said the move was meant to prevent more COVID-19 spread in the White House and other critical facilities.
“People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary,” Trump said in a tweet.
The president, who tested positive for the coronavirus in October and recovered after being hospitalized, also implied that he would get the vaccine himself at some point in the future, but said he had no immediate plans to do so.
“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.”
News that White House staff would receive the vaccine early drew criticism on social media. Trump and his aides have consistently flouted the COVID-19 guidelines issued by his own administration, including hosting large holiday parties with maskless attendees this December.
It was not immediately clear why Mr. Trump decided to change the policy, or whether he had even been aware of it ahead of time. But White House staff members who work in close quarters with him had been told that they were scheduled to receive injections of the coronavirus vaccine soon, two sources familiar with the distribution plans said.
Coronavirus deaths have been rising sharply since November in the US, with a world-record daily increase of 3,309 reported on Saturday.
The vaccine’s rollout has been framed as a turning point in the coronavirus pandemic, which has taken the lives of almost 300,000 people in the US.