House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell received Pfizer’s Covid vaccine on Friday after the attending physician in Congress urged lawmakers to sign up.
The physician, Dr. Brian Monahan, cited federal guidelines designed to ensure the U.S. government functions during the pandemic.
Senior U.S. government officials have already started to receive the vaccine, with Vice President Mike Pence, his wife, Karen, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams getting the shot live on national television Friday morning.
The general public, however, is not expected to receive the vaccine for months as doses remain limited while Pfizer ramps up production. Moderna’s vaccine could receive emergency authorization as soon as Friday. Congress is currently negotiating a Covid relief package that is expected to provide several billion dollars for vaccine distribution.
Monahan, who is also attending physician for the Supreme Court, said the National Security Council informed him that Congress, the court, and executive branch agencies will receive a small number of vaccine doses for essential personnel.
„My recommendation to you is absolutely unequivocal: there is no reason why you should defer receiving this vaccine,“ Monahan told Congress in a letter Thursday. „The benefit far exceeds any small risk.“
Monahan emphasized in his letter that „the small number of COVID19 vaccine doses we will be provided reflects a fraction of the first tranche of vaccines as it is distributed throughout the country.“ U.S. logistic plans during the first week of the vaccine rollout call for 2.9 million doses to go to sites across all 50 states.