Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, received his first dose of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine.

The top infectious disease specialist received the shot publicly on Tuesday in Bethesda, Maryland , two days before he turns 80 on Christmas Eve. He said that getting the vaccine “is as a symbol to the rest of the country. I feel extreme confidence in the safety and efficacy of this vaccine and I want to encourage everyone who has the opportunity to get vaccinated so that we could have a veil of protection over this country that would end this pandemic.”

Health and Human Secretary Alex Azar, NIH Director Francis Collins, NIH Office of Research Services Director Colleen A. McGowan and six health care workers were also vaccinated.

Moderna’s vaccine was approved by the FDA for emergency authorization last week after Pfizer’s vaccine was approved the week before. Distribution of Moderna’s vaccine began Monday. Both vaccinations require getting two shots to be effective.

This is the first time in history where vaccines were created and distributed in less than a year. By publicly receiving shots of the vaccines, government officials are trying to gain the public’s trust. “This vaccine is more or less just like any other vaccine we receive,” Azar said before getting vaccinated. He noted that despite people starting to get vaccinated, the wearing of masks and continuing to practice social distancing is crucial in fighting the virus.

On Monday, President-elect Joe Biden publicly received his shot of Pfizer’s vaccine. Last week, Vice President Mike Pence also publicly got vaccinated.

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