US Vice President Mike Pence receives coronavirus vaccine on live TV

US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen have received the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

Vice President Mike Pence receives a COVID-19 vaccine to promote the safety and efficacy of the vaccine at the White House. Friday,  18 December, 2020.

Vice President Mike Pence receives a COVID-19 vaccine to promote the safety and efficacy of the vaccine at the White House. Friday, 18 December, 2020. Source: AAP

The US vice president received a COVID-19 vaccine live on television on Friday in a public display designed to boost national confidence in the drug even as President Donald Trump sparked confusion over approval for a second anti-Covid drug.

"Building confidence in the vaccine is what brings us here this morning," VP Mike Mr Pence said after being injected at the White House, quipping: "I didn't feel a thing."

Mr Pence, his wife Karen and the lead public health official in the country, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, were all given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the annex to the White House.

Signalling the importance given to the event, top infectious diseases Anthony Fauci and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield were also in the room.

The notable absence was Mr Trump himself, who also did not refer to the event on Twitter.

'I didn't feel a thing': The moment Mike Pence got injected with the COVID-19 vaccine

 The Republican has sent mixed messages about the seriousness of COVID-19 throughout the crisis, even as the US death toll topped 300,000 this month.

However, he has been keen to take credit for the historic speed of vaccine development. Early on Friday he tweeted that a second drug made by Moderna had been "overwhelmingly approved" and that "distribution to start immediately."

This sparked confusion. An advisory panel recommended emergency use approval for Moderna's vaccine on Thursday, but the Food and Drug Administration was not expected to give the green light allowing distribution until later Friday.

Mr Trump himself has made clear he is not planning to take the vaccine imminently, citing the belief that his recovery from a brief but severe bout of COVID-19 has given him immunity.

"He will receive the vaccine as soon as his medical team determines it’s best. But his priority is frontline workers, those in long-term care facilities," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.

Fighting 'misinformation'

Mr Trump's relative silence on the subject, however, indicates that he does not want to be associated with the image of people taking the shots.

This would be in keeping with his attitude through most of the pandemic that the dangers of COVID-19 were being exaggerated as a ploy to harm his chances in the November election, which he lost, although he refuses to concede.

The winner of the election, Joe Biden, is set to take the vaccine in public next week.

Large numbers of Americans subscribe to the anti-vaccination movement and hostility to the COVID-19 vaccines in particular has been stirred by right-wing media personalities and conspiracy theorists.

US Surgeon General Jerome Adams receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shot on Friday, 18 December, 2020.
Source: AAP

There is also a focus of mistrust among African Americans, a group that Dr Adams, who is black, addressed after he got his dose.

Americans should not "let misinformation and mistrust cause you to make a decision that is bad for your health," he said.

Mr Fauci, one of the most trusted public figures in the United States, said the televised vaccination of Mr Pence "is something we want to be symbolic to tell the rest of the country: 'the time is now to step to the plate.'"

Published 19 December 2020 at 6:21am, updated 19 December 2020 at 6:56am
Source: AAP - SBS