Where is the supply of COVID-19 vaccines coming from for senior officials across government? No one will say.
Days after the White House confirmed that senior officials would receive COVID-19 vaccines to help ensure continuity of government, it remains unclear from where those vaccine doses will originate.
The District of Columbia Department of Health insists the vaccine doses will not come from their allocation. The local government in Washington has been working with neighboring jurisdictions to make sure the residents of Maryland and Virginia who are frontline health care workers within D.C. are able to get vaccines. But that doesn’t appear to extend to federal officials
“The District does not have the allotment for senior White House, Congressional and Judicial officials,” DC Health said in a statement.
A person familiar with the discussions in the Senate also confirmed that the District did not receive such an allotment.
The Department of Health and Human Services and Operation Warp Speed did not respond to a request for clarification after the statement from DC Health, having previously insisted that decisions were being made at the local level.
According to Army Gen. Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer for Warp Speed, only a handful of federal departments and agencies have their own allotments.
“The five federal agencies are Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, Department of State, Indian Health Services and Bureau of Federal Prisons,” Perna said Dec. 2.
Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to be vaccinated on Friday, and he and other senior officials certainly could be receiving a vaccine from one of those supplies, but multiple federal officials have declined to give a clear answer.
Outside of that, Pence would be expected to receive a dose of vaccine that is counted in the supply allocated to his state of residence.
The Indiana Department of Health also did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Similarly, a query to the state of Delaware about the source of the vaccine that President-elect Joe Biden will receive was not answered.
A transition official confirmed Wednesday evening that Biden intends to get vaccinated as soon as next week, but had no further details on the source.
The National Security Council said Sunday that senior officials across all three branches of government would receive priority.
A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court said Wednesday only that the court was aware of the statement made by the NSC, but did not offer any details on vaccines for the justices.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a Maryland resident, was not expected to be on the priority list for a Maryland vaccine, according to the Maryland governor’s office. Nor was House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.
Hoyer said Wednesday he was “not surprised” to hear there wasn’t a Maryland set-aside.
“They are relatively small supplies for every state at this point … that don’t come close in the short term to meeting the need that the priorities that have been suggested, particularly as it relates to health care workers, frontline workers, other personnel; critical on the frontline to give them priority, I think makes sense and is important to do so,” Hoyer told reporters.
Lindsey McPherson, Jennifer Shutt and Todd Ruger contributed to this report.