Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, received the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday morning.
Alongside a number of frontline healthcare workers, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, and Office of Research Services Director Colleen A. McGowan, Fauci was vaccinated at an event broadcast on live TV.
"I consider it an honor to be part of this process," Fauci, the nation's leading expert on the pandemic, said after receiving the first of two eventual doses.
"I feel extreme confidence in the safety and the efficacy of this vaccine, and I want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated so we can have a veil of protection over this country that would end this pandemic," he added.
Fauci is one of a number of public officials who have been vaccinated on live TV in an attempt to instill confidence in the safety of the vaccines. Vice President Mike Pence and Surgeon General Jerome Adams received the Pfizer vaccine last week, and President-elect Joe Biden did so on Monday.
Fauci, who turns 80 on Dec. 24, said on the Today show Friday that he hoped to get vaccinated "as soon as I can. I hope that’s going to be within the next few days to the early part of next week."
The Moderna vaccine, which scientists at the NIH helped develop, is the second COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the FDA after Pfizer's, marking another monumental achievement in the race to immunize a population that has been scarred by the pandemic.
Both vaccines have similar rates of effectiveness, but the Moderna vaccine can be transported and stored more easily, and the data suggests that it may be more effective at preventing severe disease.
More than 320,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the US, and more than 18 million have been infected. The pandemic has reached new heights in recent weeks, with infections and hospitalizations surging and more than 3,000 people dying each day.