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Trump Backtracks on WH Staffers Getting Vaccinated

President says White House staffers won't cut the line, 'unless specifically necessary'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2020 6:37 AM CST

(Newser) – Nationwide distribution of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine kicked off Sunday as trucks carrying millions of doses rolled out of a Michigan manufacturing site. Health care workers and nursing home residents are set to be first in line to get vaccinated, but after that it could be a "messy" prioritization process. President Trump, however, now says no one has to worry about White House staff getting an unfair advantage. "People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary," Trump tweeted Sunday night, per CNN. "I have asked that this adjustment be made." The president, who's already had and recovered from COVID-19, added that though he's currently not set to receive the vaccine, he'll do so "at the appropriate time." Politico notes it's not clear if "unless specifically necessary" means some staff will still get vaccinated ASAP.

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Trump's remarks came shortly after a New York Times report that senior White House workers would be among the first to receive the vaccine. "Senior officials across all three branches of government will receive vaccinations pursuant to continuity of government protocols," a National Security Council spokesman said in a statement before Trump backtracked. A senior administration official had told the Times that White House staffers getting vaccinated would also "[provide] visible leadership to the nation and the world, and [maintain] the trust and confidence of the American people." Critics, however, balked at an administration that's played down the virus possibly receiving first dibs. One Dem consultant called the report a "middle finger" to health care workers, while attorney George Conway, husband of ex-White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, noted, "If they were truly interested in protecting staffers, they would have been better off not holding superspreader events." (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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