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Fauci receives COVID-19 vaccine, has 'extreme confidence' it's safe, effective

ABC News logo ABC News 12/22/2020
a man wearing a hat: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to receive his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, Dec. 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland. © Patrick Semansky/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to receive his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, Dec. 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland.

The country's most prominent infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, received his first dose of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday in a ceremonial event at the National Institutes of Health.

The event was shown live on national television as part of an effort to reassure Americans that the vaccine was safe and effective. Fauci said he feels "extreme confidence" in the science behind the vaccine and wanted to get vaccinated publicly as a symbol for everyone in the country, as well as protecting him in his work where he sees patients at NIH.

"I feel extreme confidence in the safety and the efficacy of this vaccine and 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 said as he waited for his shot.

Fauci received his shot along with NIH Director Francis Collins and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. They were joined by frontline health care workers at NIH who have been treating COVID-19 patients.

a man wearing a blue shirt: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to receive his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, Dec. 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland. © Patrick Semansky/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, prepares to receive his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, Dec. 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland.

Collins said he chose to get vaccinated to put his money where his mouth is, saying "bring it on" as he rolled up his sleeve to get the vaccine he says can end the pandemic.

"I get to talk a lot about these vaccines and their promise for ending this terrible global pandemic. But it's one thing to hear me talk about it, it's another, to have me roll up my sleeves and say I believe that this is the way we're going to get through this. This is something that the evidence has shown in rigorous scientific analysis to be safe and effective so I'm rolling up my sleeves. And I'm saying, Dr. Bailey. Bring it on," Collins said ahead of getting his shot.

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He concluded the event by praising the work of NIH scientists who worked on the development of the Moderna vaccine.

"This Clinical Center has been referred to, for its 67 year history as the house of hope. It's been home to countless medical advances, many in vaccine research. Today represents yet another profoundly significant historical moment for us. It's deeply gratifying to have these halls at NIH. Now take part in the light that's starting to appear at the end of a long dark tunnel called COVID-19. A light made possible by the power of NIH science, and our many partners."

a person sitting on a stage: Alex Azar receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, Dec. 22, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. © Pool/ABC News Alex Azar receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health, Dec. 22, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland.

Fauci said earlier in the day getting vaccinated is a double positive because he both wants to show the importance of getting the vaccine and celebrate the accomplishment of the lab in his division of NIH that worked on developing the Moderna vaccine.

"It's an important moment. We have worked as you probably know very hard," he said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"I'll be getting the Moderna vaccine. We just got a shipment in yesterday. I feel very good about it, because in a large part, that vaccine was developed by my group at the NIH. So, you know, it's sort of a double positive. One, in general, I'm doing it because I want to symbolize to people the importance that everyone gets vaccinated who can get vaccinated, but also it's a good feeling of accomplishment because this originated in laboratories in my institute.”

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