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Joe Biden Receives COVID-19 Vaccine on TV: 'We Owe You Big,' He Tells Healthcare Workers

·5 min read

ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Joe Biden receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the ChristianaCare campus in Newark, Delaware, on Monday

President-elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech novel coronavirus vaccine on Monday, getting his shot on live television from Delaware's ChristianaCare Hospital.

Biden, masked and wearing a long-sleeved shirt, rolled up his sleeve as he received the shot in his left arm from nurse practitioner Tabe Mase.

Though Mase gave Biden, 78, the option of counting to three first, he instead told her to administer the shot whenever she was ready.

After receiving the dose, Biden told reporters "we owe these folks an awful lot," referring to healthcare workers.

"The scientists and the people who put this together, the frontline workers, the people who were the ones who actually did the clinical work," Biden continued. "Just amazing ... We owe you big. We really do."

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Biden also said Donald Trump's administration deserved credit for the vaccine development program Operation Warp Speed.

"I'm doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared, when it's available, to take the vaccine," Biden said.

His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, received her first course of vaccine earlier in the day, according to a statement from the Biden transition team.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, each administered several weeks apart, in order to reach 95 percent efficacy. It is unclear with the incoming president will receive his second dose.

Biden, 78, is in a high-risk category for coronavirus complications due to his age. He has separately been recovering from a fractured foot sustained while playing with his dog Major.

RELATED: Dr. Anthony Fauci Says He Gave Santa Claus the COVID-19 Vaccine: 'He Is Good to Go'

The president-elect joins a range of high-profile lawmakers who are projecting confidence in the vaccine's safety and efficacy by being publicly innoculated.

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Second Lady Karen Pence, were also vaccinated on live television.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell likewise publicly shared their shots, as did Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

According to the Associated Press, Vice president-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, are expected to receive their first rounds of the vaccine next week.

The White House has not announced if or when President Trump might receive the vaccine, noting he has already recovered from the virus and likely still has antibodies in his system.

But he "is absolutely open to taking the vaccine," a White House spokeswoman told reporters.

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images; SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images From left: Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump both tested positive for the coronavirus disease COVID-19 in October. The 74-year-old president was ultimately hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for several days and doctors said his fever spiked and his oxygen levels dropped.

After being infected, Trump continued downplaying the severity of the virus, tweeting that people shouldn't be "afraid" of COVID-19 and touting the experimental treatment he received, which was not available to the average person.

RELATED: Celebrities and Politicians Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine: See the Photos

On Friday, the U.S. set a record for the most coronavirus infections reported in a single day and remains the global epicenter.

According to a New York Times tracker, roughly 317,800 people have died from the virus in the U.S. so far.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency-use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine last week, and its distribution throughout the U.S. began shortly after.

A second vaccine, produced by Moderna, was approved on Friday and will soon begin distribution throughout the country.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel has recommended that healthcare workers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities be prioritized for the vaccine, followed by those over the age of 75.

In a statement released last week, Biden expressed his optimism in the rollout of the vaccines.

"Vaccines don’t save lives, vaccinations do. I believe we can administer 100 million vaccine shots in the first 100 days of my administration," the statement read. "My administration will focus on the science and managing a robust and aggressive plan to contain the virus on day one. It will take all of us, continuing to do our part, to slow the spread of the virus including mask wearing and social distancing."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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