Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has received the first dose of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine along with several other government health officials.
The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Fauci was filmed giving two thumbs-up after being vaccinated on live TV on Wednesday morning (Australian time).
He said he hoped that receiving the jab at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland, as millions of Americans watched on, would be a “symbol to the rest of the country”.
“I want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated so that we can have a veil of protection over this country that will end this pandemic,” Dr Fauci said.
He said he had “extreme confidence in the safety and the efficacy” of Moderna’s vaccine, which became the second to receive emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration.
The biotech company has worked with the US government to prepare for the distribution of 5.9 million shots.
The other government public health figures to have received the Moderna vaccine along with Dr Fauci include Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, National Institute of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins and NIH Office of Research Services director Colleen McGowan.
Six other health-care workers from the NIH Clinical Centre were also given the Moderna vaccine at the public event.
It comes a day after US President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden took a dose of Pfizer’s vaccine.
Outgoing President Donald Trump has yet to receive a coronavirus vaccine.
On Wednesday morning (Australian time), he tweeted that the distribution of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine “is going very smoothly”, but made no mention of when he intends to get the shot.
Mr Trump wrote: “Amazing how many people are being vaccinated, record numbers. Our Country, and indeed the World, will soon see the great miracle of what the Trump Administration has accomplished. They said it couldn’t be done!!!”
Earlier in December, he tweeted that he had “not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time”.
Vice-President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other politicians were given doses on Friday.
They chose to publicise their injections as part of a campaign to convince Americans that the vaccines are safe and effective amid skepticism, especially among Republicans.
Vice president-elect Kamala Harris and her husband are expected to receive their first shots next week.
Other members of Congress including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Marco Rubio, received their first jabs over the past week.