The president-elect received his first of two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at ChristianaCare Hospital, which is a short drive from his home in Wilmington, Del., in an event that was televised nationally.
"I'm doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared, when it's available, to take the vaccine. There's nothing to worry about," Biden said after receiving his shot.
President-elect Joe Biden receives his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, from nurse practitioner Tabe Mase. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Biden was accompanied by his wife Jill Biden, who received her vaccination earlier in the day.
Last Monday the first doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine were injected into health care workers, who are on the front lines in the battle against a pandemic that’s taken the lives of nearly 320,000 Americans since the virus first swept the nation in February and March.
The vaccine was authorized days earlier by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use, and the first doses were delivered to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Three days ago, a second vaccine that’s been produced by the drug maker Moderna was approved for emergency use approval by the FDA.
Biden credited President Trump's administration, saying, "I think the administration deserves some credit for getting us off the ground with Operation Warp Speed."
Warp Speed is the name of the federal program implemented by the White House this year to work with the major drug manufacturers to produce a coronavirus vaccine.
But Biden noted that "this is just the beginning. … It’s going to take time."
He added that "in the meantime, I know I don’t want to sound like a sour note here but I hope people listen to all the experts."
The president-elect once again encouraged Americans to wear masks and stay socially distanced during the holiday season.
"If you don’t have to travel, don’t travel. Because we’re still in the thick of this," Biden added.
Calling it a "medical miracle," Vice President Mike Pence on Friday morning publicly received his vaccination, in an event that was also nationally televised. He emphasized that the vaccine was "safe and effective," as he was joined in taking the shots by his wife, second lady Karen Pence, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., were also given doses on Friday and also publicized their injections as part of a campaign to convince skeptical Americans that the shots are safe. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband are expected to receive their first shots next week.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have said they will take the vaccine publicly to also inspire confidence among Americans.
President Trump, who was hospitalized with COVID in October, has not said when he’ll take his vaccination.
A Fox News national poll conducted earlier this month indicated that 61% of Americans plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19, up from 54% in September. Among the 28% who do not plan to be vaccinated, the top reasons include that its development was rushed (23%), a lack of trust it will work (21%), opposition to vaccines generally (13%), distrust of the government (10%), and concern about side effects (9%).