Mike Pence vaccine
US Vice President Mike Pence receives the COVID-19 vaccine at the White House in Washington, US, December 18, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Washington: US Vice-President Mike Pence received a coronavirus vaccine on live television Friday morning at the White House, a measure that the Trump administration said was intended to “promote the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and build confidence among the American people.”

“I didn’t feel a thing,” he said shortly after receiving the shot. “Well done.”

His wife, Karen Pence, and Dr Jerome Adams, the surgeon general, also received the vaccine. Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert; Dr Robert Redfield, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention; and Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services, also attended. The event was held in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where doctors from Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre administered the vaccine.

President-elect Joe Biden is scheduled to receive an injection on camera next week.

Notably absent from any planned public proceedings is President Donald Trump.

On Friday morning, Trump was not promoting Pence’s event, which his aides had asked all television networks to carry live. “The Russia Hoax becomes an even bigger lie!” the president tweeted about a minute before Pence’s event began.

Although the vaccine may provide a ray of hope as the coronavirus kills about 3,000 people in the United States a day, the message on the virus from the administration’s highest officials remains muddled and often contradictory.

Pence received his first vaccine shot as he encourages other Americans to follow suit six months after he wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal under the headline “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave.’” This week he hosted a holiday party at his residence at which guests mingled in an outdoor tent and posed for pictures without masks, according to attendees.

Trump, who recovered from his own bout with the virus after being treated with experimental drugs at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, is described by aides and allies as preoccupied with the election results that he still refuses to accept, and has shown no interest in participating in any kind of public health message.