Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, received his initial dose of a coronavirus vaccine Tuesday morning.
Fauci was among a group of federal government health officials and health care workers who were vaccinated. He was joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, and front-line workers from the NIH.
Watch the public vaccinations below:
Before his was inoculated, Fauci was asked why he decided to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He gave two reasons – because he sees patients and because he wants to encourage Americans to do the same so the nation can emerge from the pandemic.
"For me it’s important for two reasons, one is that I’m an attending physician here on the staff at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, and so I do see patients, but as important or more important, it’s as a symbol for the rest of the country that I feel extreme confidence in the safety and efficacy of this vaccine and I want everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated, so we can have a veil of protection over this country that would end this pandemic," said Fauci.
Azar was asked the same question and said he wants the American people to know that he has absolute confidence in the integrity of the vaccine production process.
“As secretary, it’s on my authority that these vaccines are authorized, and I want the American people to know that I have absolute and complete confidence in the integrity and the independence of the processes used by the FDA to approve these vaccines,” said Azar. “I am just so grateful to NIH and Moderna, and all the participants of Operation Warp Speed for bringing us to this point where now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel from this dark period.
The men and women received the vaccine recently approved by Moderna, which began being administered to Americans on Monday after it received an emergency use authorization from the FDA late Friday. A clinical trial of the Moderna vaccine indicated it is 94% effective against the coronavirus. Those who are administered Pfizer's vaccine are asked to return 21 days later for a booster.
The vaccine was one of two authorized by the FDA for emergency use. Earlier this month, Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine received an emergency use authorization from the FDA. The vaccine will be the first of two shots. Those vaccinated with Moderna's coronavirus vaccine will be asked to get a booster 28 days later.
Fauci has expressed optimism that getting the US to herd immunity through a coronavirus vaccine will begin allowing Americans to return to normal. Getting enough people vaccinated to allow for a return to normalcy, however, might not happen until well into 2021, Fauci has cautioned.
"Just over the past few days, science has allowed us to have a vaccine that when we distribute it to people throughout the country, and hopefully throughout the world, we will crush this outbreak that has really terrorized us for the last 11 months, not only here in the United States, but worldwide,” Fauci said at an event last Friday at Duke University. “It's damaged severely the economy and led to people suffering things, not necessarily directly related to being ill themselves, but all the secondary consequences that go with the effects of a global pandemic such as this."