Infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci and other top US government health officials received their first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday.
Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, received the shot at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, reports the NBC.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, NIH Director Francis Collins, NIH Office of Research Services Director Colleen A. McGowan and six health care workers from the medical clinic were also vaccinated.
Publicly getting the vaccine "is as a symbol to the rest of the country," Fauci said.
"I feel extreme confidence in the safety and the efficacy of this vaccine and I want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated so that we could have a veil of protection over this country that would end this pandemic."
Fauci and the other officials received the Moderna vaccine from the agency's first shipment of 100 doses.
It was co-developed by the infectious disease institute and by Moderna, the biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine late last week and distribution of the first doses began on Monday.
Azar said in remarks before he received his shot that "this vaccine is more or less just like any other vaccine we receive" and that they still have to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
"I made it a personal priority to ensure that we were not cutting any corners in this development process, that the standards and data being used were fully transparent and that the final decisions made on these vaccines, were made by the same career FDA scientists who would make the decisions on any other vaccine," Azar said.