Lawmakers begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines

Pelosi and McConnell among first leaders to receive the vaccine

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA., receives a COVID-19 vaccination shot by Dr. Brian Monahan, attending physician Congress of the United States in her office in Washington, D.C. on Friday. (Ken Cedeno/UPI)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA., receives a COVID-19 vaccination shot by Dr. Brian Monahan, attending physician Congress of the United States in her office in Washington, D.C. on Friday. (Ken Cedeno/UPI)
Posted December 18, 2020 at 2:48pm

The campaign to get Congress vaccinated against COVID-19 is underway.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky each shared photos of themselves receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines on Friday.

Other lawmakers scheduled vaccinations Friday, including Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.

“I am mindful that millions of Americans are still waiting for shots they will get after me, many of whom are workers on the front lines of this pandemic,” Beyer said in a statement after receiving the shot. “I do not believe that I am more important than they are, but as national leaders it is important to lead by example.”

The vaccinations in the Capitol complex came the same day that Vice President Mike Pence received the first of the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that President-elect Joe Biden will receive his first dose of the vaccine on Monday.

All members of Congress have been encouraged to schedule appointments to get vaccinated through the Office of the Attending Physician. Both Pelosi and McConnell appeared to receive the injection directly from Attending Physician Brian Monahan.

“My recommendation to you is absolutely unequivocal: there is no reason why you should defer receiving this vaccine,” Monahan wrote in a Thursday Dear Colleague letter to House members and staff.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he also planned to follow Monahan’s advice.

“I know they sent a letter. I will get it. I will take it. They’re going to schedule me and I'm going to go take it,” McCarthy told reporters.

With Congress expected to be in session through the weekend continuing to work on fiscal 2021 omnibus spending legislation and potential further pandemic-related economic aid, there should be time for members to get the vaccine before returning home for the holidays.

“Just received the safe, effective COVID vaccine following continuity-of-government protocols. Vaccines are how we beat this virus,” McConnell tweeted. “Now back to continue fighting for a rescue package including a lot more money for distribution so more Americans can receive it as fast as possible.”

There is still an abundance of questions about how the limited vaccine doses provided to Capitol Hill will be dispensed to staff.

The doses were provided as part of the effort to provide for continuity of federal government operations, meaning that leadership and floor staff will likely receive priority, but there are plenty of essential support staff that work for the Capitol Police, offices like those of the sergeants-at-arms, the Architect of the Capitol and various contractors, including food service vendors Sodexo and Restaurant Associates.

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Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.