Dr. Anthony Fauci Publicly Receives the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine on Tuesday
Dr. Anthony Fauci has received his first dose of the Moderna novel coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, getting his shot on live television.
Fauci was joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and several National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center frontline health workers.
Masked and wearing a long-sleeved button-down shirt, the 79-year-old infectious-disease expert rolled up his sleeve as he received the shot in his left arm.
When asked why he was getting the vaccine, Fauci said, "First, I am an attending physician here on the staff at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center and so I do see patients. But, as important or more important, is as a symbol to the rest of the country that I feel extreme confidence in the safety and the efficacy of this vaccine."
"I want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated so that we can have a veil of protection over this country that would end this pandemic," he added.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
The Moderna vaccine (like the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine) requires two doses, each administered several weeks apart, in order to reach 95 percent efficacy. It is unclear when Fauci will receive his second dose.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the Moderna vaccine on Friday and is beginning distribution throughout the country.
Pfizer's vaccine had already been approved and has been administered to thousands of people starting last week. The first vaccine went to an ICU nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York City, one of the hospitals that was hit the hardest by COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic.
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.
Prior to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine's FDA approval, Fauci said that the majority of Americans who wish to get vaccinated should be able to by April or May of next year.
"By the time we get to April, we would likely have taken care of all the high priority and then the general population — the normal, healthy young man or woman, 30 years old that has no underlying conditions — can walk into a CVS or to a Walgreens and get vaccinated," he told Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an interview on Nov. 30.
Fauci added, "I would think as we get to April and May that we likely would have, for those who want to get vaccinated, the overwhelming majority of the people that want to get vaccinated."