President Trump said on Sunday night that he would delay a plan for senior White House staff members to receive the coronavirus vaccine in the coming days.
The shift came just hours after The New York Times reported that the administration was rapidly planning to distribute the vaccine to its staff at a time when the first doses are generally being reserved for high-risk health care workers.
Mr. Trump, who tested positive for the coronavirus in October and recovered after being hospitalized, also implied that he would get the vaccine himself at some point in the future, but said he had no immediate plans to do so.
“People working in the White House should receive the vaccine somewhat later in the program, unless specifically necessary,” Mr. Trump tweeted, hours after a National Security Council spokesman had defended the plan. “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. Thank you!”
It was not immediately clear why Mr. Trump decided to change the policy, or whether he had even been aware of it ahead of time. But White House staff members who work in close quarters with him had been told that they were scheduled to receive injections of the coronavirus vaccine soon, two sources familiar with the distribution plans said.
The goal of distributing the vaccine in the West Wing was to prevent additional government officials from falling ill in the final weeks of the Trump administration. The hope was to eventually distribute the vaccine to everyone who works in the White House, one of the people said.
It was not clear how many doses were being allocated to the White House or how many were needed, since many staff members had already tested positive for the virus and recovered. While many Trump officials said they were eager to receive the vaccine and would take it if it were offered, others said they were concerned it would send the wrong message by making it appear as if Trump staff members were hopping the line to protect a president who has already recovered from the virus and bragged that he is now “immune.”