Hours after the White House confirmed that members of President Donald Trump's administration would be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations, Trump tweeted that he would ask for them to get vaccinated "somewhat later."
On Sunday, the White House said senior administration officials — who seriously mismanaged the coronavirus pandemic leading to nearly 300,000 American deaths and who have constantly downplayed the seriousness of the virus by refusing to wear masks and defying public health experts — will be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The New York Times and Bloomberg first reported that high-ranking White House officials who work closely with Trump were scheduled to receive shots of the vaccine — prioritized for healthcare workers and nursing home residents — within days.
The White House confirmed to BuzzFeed News that senior administration officials were going to receive vaccinations to ensure that the government can continue to operate during the pandemic and to build the public trust in the vaccine. However, the White House did not provide details on how many staff members would be getting the doses and when.
"Senior officials across all three branches of government will receive vaccinations pursuant to continuity of government protocols established in executive policy," John Ullyot, the deputy assistant to the president and a National Security Council spokesperson, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
"The American people should have confidence that they are receiving the same safe and effective vaccine as senior officials of the United States government on the advice of public health professionals and national security leadership," Ullyot said.
Hours later, Trump tweeted that he had asked for an "adjustment" to be made, saying that White House staffers "should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary."
He said he was not scheduled to be vaccinated but would get it "at the appropriate time."
The first shipments of Pfizer's highly effective COVID-19 vaccine began early Sunday and are expected to be sent to all 50 states by Monday. Healthcare workers on the front lines and nursing home residents have been deemed the highest priority to receive the vaccines, per the CDC.
Trump and his aides have frequently maintained a cavalier attitude to the coronavirus — even after the president, the first lady, and their son Barron Trump, were infected. Another of the president's children, Donald Trump Jr., also got COVID-19.
Multiple White House officials have also tested positive for COVID-19 with several cases stemming from at least two White House events where many attendees flouted guidance on wearing masks and socially distancing. Top Trump aides, including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows who contracted COVID-19, have also routinely dismissed coronavirus restrictions.
Leading up to the election, Trump held several campaign rallies with packed crowds, where many people were maskless. At one rally, Trump poked fun at his political opponents for wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.