US president-elect Biden to get COVID-19 vaccine next week

President-elect Joe Biden will get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as next week, transition officials said on Wednesday (Dec 16), as US authorities try to build public confidence in a measure that promises to stanch the deadly pandemic.

Vice President Mike Pence will get the vaccine on Friday, the White House said.

Both men will receive the shot publicly in an effort to boost confidence in the safety of the vaccine, which will become widely available to the public next year.

President Donald Trump will get the vaccine himself as soon as his medical team determines it is best, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Tuesday.

Initial doses of the vaccine, which became available this week, have been set aside for doctors, nurses and other frontline medical workers, along with residents and staff members of nursing homes and some US government officials.

US officials aim to get 2.9 million doses of the vaccine, developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, by week’s end.

At least 304,187 Americans have died of the disease, according to a Reuters tally, and 16.7 million have been infected – roughly 5 per cent of the population.

Pence’s wife, Karen, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams also will get the vaccine on Friday, the White House said.

The news comes as Biden is building his incoming administration before he takes office on Jan 20.