US President Donald Trump says he will reverse an administration directive to vaccinate top government officials against COVID-19 while the jab is distributed first to frontline health workers and residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Trump made the announcement hours after his administration confirmed senior US officials, including White House aides who work in close proximity to Trump and vice-president Mike Pence, would be offered coronavirus vaccines as soon as this week under federal continuity of government plans.
“People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary,” Trump said in a tweet on Sunday. “I have asked that this adjustment be made. I am not scheduled to take the vaccine, but look forward to doing so at the appropriate time.”
It was not immediately clear what the scale of the vaccination program was supposed to be, according to two people briefed on the matter, or what effect Trump’s tweet would have on the government’s efforts to protect senior leadership.
News that White House staff would receive the vaccine early drew criticism on social media.
Trump and his aides have consistently flouted the COVID-19 guidelines issued by his own administration, including hosting large holiday parties with maskless attendees this December.