President-elect Joe Biden received his first COVID-19 vaccine dose Monday and offered rare praise for President Trump before giving an awkward fist-bump to his nurse practitioner.
Biden applauded the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed for successfully developing vaccines before making the new faux pas discouraged during the pandemic.
“I think that the administration deserves some credit getting this off the ground with Operation Warp Speed,” Biden said, wearing an informal black long-sleeved shirt to his appointment.
Biden, 78, touted the vaccine as safe while wearing two overlapping protective face masks to his appointment at ChristianaCare Hospital in Newark, Delaware.
The president-elect received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires a second dose in 21 days. A second vaccine made by Moderna won regulatory approval last week.
Tabe Masa, a nurse practitioner, administered Biden’s shot. Afterward, Biden and Masa — neither wearing gloves — went in for a fist bump.
Using bare hands for greetings is discouraged during the pandemic because it can transmit the virus, and Biden and Masa’s fist bump awkwardly evolved into a wrist bump.
Although an advocate for social distancing and mask wearing, Biden at times has reverted to traditional greetings amid COVID-19. In September, Trump mocked Biden for shaking hands “like in the old days” on the tarmac of a Wisconsin airport.
Incoming first lady Jill Biden joined her husband on Monday but did not receive a shot on-air as expected.
“There’s nothing to worry about. I’m looking forward to the second shot. So is Jill. She’s had her shot earlier today. She loves shots, I know.”
Biden also discouraged people from traveling for Christmas as COVID-19 cases surge despite the early phase of vaccine distribution.
“I hope people listen to all the experts and the Dr. [Anthony] Faucis… talking about the need to wear masks during this Christmas and New Year’s holidays, wear masks, socially distance and if you don’t have to travel, don’t travel, don’t travel. It’s really important because we’re still in the thick of this,” Biden said.
“It’s one thing to have the vaccine show up at the hospital. It’s another thing to get the vaccine from that vial, into a needle, into an arm. And there’s millions of people out there they’re going to need this, and frontline workers first.”
Biden cleared his throat frequently while speaking to the press and received the dose after a COVID-19 scare that struck his inner circle last week.
A journalist who joined the former vice president on a Tuesday Senate runoff campaign trip to Georgia tested positive for the coronavirus Wednesday. A senior incoming White House aide, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) also tested positive, though he was not on Biden’s flight.
Biden was filmed removing his mask to speak with people during his campaign stop for Georgia candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphel Warnock, whose Jan. 5 contests will dictate control of the Senate next year.
Biden will take office Jan. 20 as the oldest-ever incoming president.
Since March about 18 million Americans tested positive for the virus that’s killed more than 318,000 US residents.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff won’t get their first doses until next week, incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
The Bidens are the latest officials to get the shot to encourage the public to do so as well. On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence were given their first round of shots before an audience.
Dr. Fauci, who is a member of the White House coronavirus task force, will get his first shot Tuesday, his office said Monday.
President Trump, meanwhile, will wait to receive the vaccine.
Trump was hospitalized four days in October for COVID-19 treatment including experimental polyclonal antibodies. Individuals who receive that particular treatment should not be vaccinated for at least 90 days to avoid any potential interference, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory board.
The White House has said that he is still discussing timing with his doctors.
“When the time is right, I’m sure he will remain willing to take it. It’s just something we’re working through,” White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern said Friday.