By Joel Achenbach,
The coronavirus vaccine will go into arms in the nation’s capital as soon as Monday afternoon.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will be on hand at 2:30 p.m. at George Washington University Hospital in Washington when five of the hospital’s health-care workers receive doses of the newly approved immunization, a senior administration official said late Sunday night.
Although news reports have said that White House staff members are among those who will be offered early doses of the vaccine, which has received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, the event on Monday is designed to highlight the typical process of rolling out inoculations.
The hospital alone decided who would be at the head of the line. Azar will not receive a shot but plans to do so at some point to help advance public acceptance of the vaccine, the administration official said, speaking on background for planning purposes.
“This is the kickoff of a series of events you will see from public health officials that are designed to highlight confidence both in the vaccine and in the process America has to distribute the vaccine,” the official said.
The vaccine developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the German biotech company BioNTech has been shown to be safe in large randomized trials and has been remarkably effective in preventing covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. It can cause side effects, such as fever and fatigue, similar to what has been seen in the already approved and widely distributed shingles vaccine, but they do not last.
Public health officials are counting on the public to embrace the vaccine, and potentially other vaccines still under development and soon to pass through regulatory hurdles, as the crucial step in crushing the coronavirus pandemic.
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