Former President Jimmy Carter 'Looking Forward' to Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine

Jimmy Carter, America’s oldest living former president, is eager and awaiting the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine when his time comes.

“After consulting with his doctors, President Carter is looking forward to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to him,” a spokesperson said in a statement Friday, via Carter's eponymous humanitarian organization, The Carter Center.

The ex-president, now 96, is in a high-risk category for complications from COVID-19 due to his age. He has had a number of health issues in recent years, including several falls and surgery for bleeding on his brain.

The Carter Center said earlier this month that the former president and his wife, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, 93, are “in full support of COVID-19 vaccine efforts and encourage everyone who is eligible to get immunized as soon as it becomes available in their communities.”

Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all committed to taking the vaccine in public in order to boost confidence in its safety.

"If Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting COVID, absolutely, I'm going to take it," Obama, 59, said, referring to the nation's top infectious disease expert.

Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence received the vaccine on camera Friday morning, in an effort "to promote [its] safety and efficacy,” according to the White House.

Whether President Donald Trump will take the vaccine is still an “open question,” the White House said this month, given that he previously contracted and recovered from the virus.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine on Dec. 11, and its distribution across the country began soon after.

On Thursday, the FDA endorsed another vaccination developed by manufacturer Moderna.

The FDA says it will now "rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization," according to a press release.

At least 310,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19, according to a New York Times tracker. More than 17.2 million people across the country have contracted the novel coronavirus.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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