Kamala Harris receives COVID-19 vaccine, urges trust in minority communities

EXCLUSIVE: The vice president-elect also urged the Senate to pass a bill that would increase relief stimulus checks to $2,000

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris made a plea to the public at the United Medical Center in Southeast Washington D.C., a predominantly Black community, where she received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine.

TheGrio was on the ground as the vice president-elect emphasized that the vaccine is about saving lives, saying, “I trust the scientists and it’s the scientists who created and approve the vaccine … I urge everyone when it’s your turn to get vaccinated.”

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Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is administered the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine by Registered Nurse Patricia Cummings at the United Medical Center on December 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Harris addressed the press at the hospital’s auditorium that became a makeshift vaccination hospital room. She sat in a standard mint green hospital recliner that was accompanied by a hospital room table that had tissues and hand sanitizer visible as she received the vaccination from nurse Patricia Cummings, a Guyana born immigrant to the United States.

Vice President-elect Harris said the vaccine was “relatively painless.” She added, “It is safe … literally this is about saving lives.”

The venue and the backdrop of her public vaccination was no coincidence. It is meant to combat the mistrust in minority communities with medical trials and other health disparity matters. As it relates to the COVID-19 vaccination, which is still in the trial phase for Moderna and Pfizer, theGrio asked Harris specifically about the issue of minority mistrust of the vaccine.

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“I’m [here] today because first of all we have phenomenal healthcare providers like Patricia who serve the community and we have hospitals and medical centers and clinics like these all over the country who are staffed by people who understand the community, who often come from the community and who administer all-year-round trusted healthcare,” said Harris.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris encourages the public to receive the COVID-19 vaccines after she received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine herself at the United Medical Center on December 29, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

“I want to remind people that right in your community is where you can take the vaccine, where you will receive a vaccine by folks you may know. Folks who work in the same hospital where your children may have been born. Folks who work in the same hospital where an elderly relative received the kind of care that they needed.”

On hand for the event was Dr. Talal M. Nsouli, the director of the Watergate & Burke Allergy and Asthma Centers.  He further discussed the success of the vaccine saying out of the 2 million people who have taken the vaccine in medical trials and in the disbursement of the emergency use authorization, “only four people had allergic reactions.”

As far as the trials for the vaccine, Pfizer, the company that was not used for the vaccine for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Harris, their product is still underway and expected to last two years with 43,000 people taking part. 

Read More: FDA panel endorses widespread use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Meanwhile, Pfizer has an emergency use authorization that allows them to sell the vaccine to governments as it awaits FDA approval. Countries that have purchased the vaccine include the United States, Canada, the U.K. and other European countries.

Staying on the topic of COVID-19, theGrio also asked Vice President-elect Harris about the relief bill that was sent to Senate after being passed in the House which would extend direct payments to $2,000 for most Americans.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urged a unanimous consent that wasn’t expected to pass on the Senate floor, even as questions remained about where Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stood on the issue of a stimulus increase. Harris, a former California U.S. senator up until her election to the vice presidency, urged the Senate to pass the bill.

“I actually have a bill for that, where awhile back I recommended that folks receive a $2,000 check. And so I would urge Mitch McConnell to put my bill on the floor for a vote,” Harris said.

Just hours after Harris’s plea, however, McConnell blocked Schumer’s request for a unanimous vote in support of the popular bipartisan measure. Instead, he said the Senate would “begin a process” to consider the larger payments without signaling if he would ultimately support it.

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