Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday visited a local pharmacy in Washington, DC, to highlight the Biden administration’s retail pharmacy vaccination program and combat vaccine hesitancy.
Harris stressed the importance of all Americans, particularly those in communities of color hesitant about getting the vaccine, signing up for it as soon as it becomes available.
The vice president spoke to a woman who was at the pharmacy receiving her second dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. After getting the shot, the woman told Harris she was looking forward to being able to see her 5-year-old great grandson.
“There are so many reasons to get vaccinated, right?” Harris said. “So we can all get back to seeing all of our family members and being together. That’s right. That’s one of the best reasons to get vaccinated.”
The vice president also talked about the side effects from her own Moderna Covid-19 vaccination.
“The first dose I was fine. The second dose I thought I was fine, got up early in the morning, went to work, and then midday I realized, yeah, I might need to slow down a bit,” Harris said with a laugh. “Just that one day, and then it was fine. And then it was fine, like nothing.”
The vice president was accompanied on the visit by DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and DC Department of Health director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt.
Harris spoke to a pharmacist at the Giant grocery store pharmacy about how they are administering the vaccine, the challenges they are facing and what kind of questions they are getting asked by people in the community.
Harris asked the pharmacist about the issues of vaccine hesitancy versus access. He said his team does not yet have enough vaccine to get it to the people who want it, but suggested that when DC moves into the phase of vaccinating the general public it will become important to educate Americans. He also said some people in the community had concerns about the side effects of the vaccine.
Those who get the vaccine may experience side effects, which are normal signs that their body is building protection, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm at the site of the injection. Fever, chills, tiredness and headache are also possible side effects, but they should go away in a few days, the CDC says.
The Biden administration started sending vaccines directly to retail pharmacies earlier this month in an effort to expand points of access for Americans to receive shots. The White House listed 21 national pharmacy chains that would participate in the initial phase of the program, including Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid.
Last week, the Biden administration increased distribution from 1 to 2 million doses to 7,000 pharmacies across the country, according to a Harris aide.
Harris has repeatedly appealed to communities of color to get their vaccines. She received her own doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine on live television to encourage vaccinations. Harris received her first dose at a medical center in southeast Washington, DC, and thanked the team there for serving a community that she said is often overlooked.
The White House continues to emphasize its efforts to distribute Covid-19 vaccines in an equitable manner across the country and ensure that vulnerable populations who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic have access to the vaccines as well as medical care.
The administration is also sending Covid-19 vaccines directly to community health centers as part of an effort to reach underserved areas.
In an interview aired Thursday before the visit, Harris made a direct pitch to Black Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible and attempted to dispel any fears about the safety of the vaccines.
“I got vaccinated. I can tell you, first of all, that these vaccines are safe. It will save your life,” Harris said on MSNBC. She noted a Black woman, Kizzmekia Corbett, was part of the team of scientists who developed the vaccine.
“Yes, we must speak truth about the history of medical testing in this country. We must be honest about the fact that people have a righteous skepticism about how it has been used, how it has been tested and on whom it will be used,” Harris added.
“But I promise you and I am telling you this vaccine is safe,” Harris said. “And it will save your life and the lives of your family and your community and we have it within our power to actually do that. So get your vaccination when it is your turn. It will save your life.”