GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris visited South Carolina on Monday to kick off a nationwide push to vaccinate millions more Americans against the coronavirus as July 4 holiday celebrations loom.
Watch Harris’ remarks in the video player above.
Harris spoke at the Phillis Wheatley Community Center at a vaccine mobilization event, reminding an audience of more than 150 that the coronavirus vaccines available are safe, free and effective in an effort to debunk misinformation and dislodge vaccine skepticism experts say have slowed down the administration of the shots across the country.
“They are safe, and they are free,” Harris said of the vaccines. “They are inspected, and it is that simple.”
Monday’s visit kicks off the launch of a national tour that’s part of the White House’s “month of action,” announced by President Joe Biden earlier this month urging more Americans to get their shots before the July 4 holiday.
Harris will next head to Atlanta on Friday, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan plans to make Tuesday stops in Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina.
The White House effort includes an early summer sprint of incentives and a slew of new steps to ease barriers and make the vaccines more appealing to those who have not received them. It’s aimed at helping the president close in on his goal of getting 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by Independence Day.
Some of those efforts, Harris said Monday, include partnering with rideshare services to offer free rides to vaccine sites, having pharmacies across the country that are open 24 hours a day and working with childcare facilities to offer free childcare as people get vaccinated and recover from their side effects.
“Americans care for one another. Americans love our neighbor and in a perfect stranger’s face we see a friend — that’s who we are when we are at our best,” Harris said. “And for that reason alone, Americans are going to keep getting vaccinated.”
The vice president’s visit also coincides with the state’s “COVID-19 Vaccine Action Week.” South Carolina health officials are making a concentrated push to get state residents rapidly vaccinated, offering walk-in events at rural health clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and even breweries in the coming days.
South Carolina NAACP leaders and public health officials joined Harris at the community center Monday, decrying how few people in Greenville had received their shots so far.
The South has been home to some of the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates in the country, with Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia and South Carolina all in the bottom ten states for doses administered per capita as of Sunday, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Less than 39 percent of South Carolina’s population was fully vaccinated as of last week, according to the state health department. South Carolina State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said the state has worked to eliminate barriers to ensure vaccine access in many non-traditional settings.
“Barriers to the vaccine is no longer the greatest issue,” Bell said. “It is choice.”
Will Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit increase vaccine rates in South Carolina?
Devyani Chhetri, Greenville News – When Mark Masson heard that Vice President Kamala Harris was coming to Greenville for a national vaccination tour, he wondered what good it was going to do.
“I’m not going to listen to some lady who wants to get my vote,” he said.
No one , not even the vice president, could tell the 59-year-old what he should or could do. No one, except maybe for his 91-year-old mother.
He sat on the porch of a boarding house near West Greenville in a white T-shirt and black shorts. It had nearly been a month since he got his second shot at St. Francis Hospital. His mother had insisted repeatedly that he get his shots.
So he did.
Masson, who has a history of diabetes and smoking, along with a recent fall that had left his hip dislocated, was disabled and was particularly vulnerable to a virus that had affected many with comorbidities adversely.
“I would have been the first in line — bam! Gone!” he said, raising his arms over his head.
Beside him sat Donald Williams, 72, who has lived in Greenville all his life. Not even a month has passed since they met each other, but Masson had managed to achieve what William’s daughter and nieces were begging him to do.
He got him to go for the vaccine. “I only got it because he got it,” Williams said leaning on his walking stick with a blue cap on his tilted on his head.
Masson and Williams are two of the 7,428 fully vaccinated people currently living in their ZIP code and among the 2 million South Carolinians who have been fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health and Environment Control data … Click here to read more.