Remarks by Vice President Harris at a COVID Vaccination Mobilization Event
Phillis Wheatley Community Center
Greenville, South Carolina
12:20 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello! Oh, it’s good to be back in Greenville. It is good to be back in South Carolina. (Laughs.) (Applause.) And how proud are we of Robert? Can we hear it for Robert? (Applause.)
You know, when I see our young leaders like Robert, I know everything is going to be all right. Everything is going to be all right.
Well, it’s so good to see everyone. And, Mayor Knox White, thank you for your leadership. I also want to thank our great friend and the great leader, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, who couldn’t be here today. But I did ask him for a visa, a passport — a permission slip to come in. (Laughs.) And he said, “Okay.” And, you know, he works tirelessly, of course, for South Carolina and for our nation.
And, of course, thank you to South Carolina’s NAACP and all of our volunteers who are here today. Thank you. Thank you.
I am here to thank you on behalf of President Biden and myself, because the work you all are doing to get South Carolina vaccinated is some of the most important work that any leaders can do right now. And, you know, when you think about it, the act of getting folks vaccinated, isn’t that the very essence of what we mean when we say, “Act in a way that is a projection of ‘love thy neighbor’”?
That’s what this is about: “Love thy neighbor.” And we know, the Good Book tells us, that neighbor may be somebody you recognize, who lives next door, or it may be the person you meet on the street. A new friend who previously was a perfect stranger but who, in a civil society, in a good society, we say, “We see you, we hear you, we care about you. And as an extension of the love of ourselves, we will support you.”
And so that’s what we’re doing right now. That’s what we’re doing. It is an extension of “love thy neighbor” to say that when we get vaccinated and make sure everyone we see or know gets vaccinated, it’s not just about protecting ourselves, it’s about protecting our family and protecting our friends. And we are protecting those who we may never meet by doing this advocacy work and this organizing work.
So, to all those who are vaccinated, let me start by saying “thank you.” Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
And we know there are a whole lot of folks out there who still aren’t vaccinated, and there are reasons for that. Access is a reason; can people actually get to the place. No paid time off is a reason. If people have to make the choice between feeding their children and paying the rent, and getting vaccinated, well, we know the choice they’re likely to make. Some of the other reasons: Childcare is a reason. If you got to take care of your children, where are they going to go? What are you going to do for the time it takes to go and get vaccinated? Transportation is a reason. And so is information or the lack thereof, in terms of why some people haven’t yet been vaccinated.
And I know the volunteers here have heard many of these points from the people in your communities and the people you’ve been interacting with.
From day one, our administration, together with partners around the country, have been working to address those barriers that stand in the way of folks getting vaccinated.
And during our “We Can Do This” Month of Action, we are making a big push to make sure people know what’s available to help them out, to help them get by.
So, on the issue of access, there are pharmacies across the country that are keeping their doors open for 24 hours on Fridays in June. Twenty-four hours for Fridays in June. So, that means even if you work nights, even if you work two shifts, you should still be able to get vaccinated at a time that works with your work schedule.
And in the event you do have that ability, and in the event that you might have to miss work to get the vaccine — well, there are employers across the country who are offering paid time off for their employees to get vaccinated. And I’m talking about, for example, Dollar General, Best Buy, Starbucks — companies that operate right here in South Carolina.
Another barrier to getting vaccinated, like we talked about, is childcare. So, some people who get the shots, for example, and then need a day to recover from the shot, also need help taking care of their children. So we’re dealing with that.
We have partnered with YMCA, with KinderCare, with the Learning Care Group, and Bright Horizons to provide free childcare for vaccinations and recovery.
And then we talked about the issue of transportation. Well, we know plenty of folks who don’t have a car and that there maybe not be a bus that goes by their house in a convenient way, or any kind of public transportation. So, how can we expect them to get to the vaccination site? We got to see people. We got to understand the condition in which people live.
So, for that reason, on the issue of transportation, now, Uber and Lyft are giving free rides to and from the vaccination site.
So, we’re addressing the transportation issue. We are addressing the childcare issue. We are addressing the issue of paid time off and access.
And the only thing that is left is making sure people have the correct information — the correct information and not misinformation.
So, I see a lot of folks here nodding at that point, because we know this is a big issue.
And I know there are folks out there who aren’t saying they won’t get the vaccine; what they’re saying is they’re just not sure. And a lot of that has to do with the misinformation, or maybe the lack of correct information. And so people may question the safety and the efficacy of the vaccine. They may have heard things that aren’t quite true.
So, let’s speak directly to these issues right now: These vaccines were developed over a decade of research. I know it seemed like it happened overnight, but it didn’t. Over a decade of hard work and research went into the creation of the vaccine.
And all of you know that one of the people responsible for the creation of a vaccine is Dr. Kizzy Corbett — (applause) — an African American scientist, woman, who helped design a vaccine that is saving people’s lives.
The vaccines have gone through FDA clinical trials. Why do we do that? To test, to ensure that they are safe to use. And the FDA has said they are safe to use. They went through the trials, and they passed.
So, the vaccines — let me say it again — are safe. They are safe. And they are free. And they are effective. And it is that simple.
If you are vaccinated, you are protected. If your community is vaccinated, COVID rates in your community will go down.
You know, I got my second shot back in January, and I’m so glad I did. You know, and, yeah, I felt a little off for a few hours the next day. But after that, I was fine.
Who — who — who got — who knows what I’m talking about, right? (Laughs.) Right? You know, you felt a little off right after, or the next day, but then you were fine.
And then you knew you were protected. Then we knew we were protected, and what a great feeling that was — to know that you took the power in your own hands, to take care of yourself and your health and your family’s health.
And that’s another part of this: to remind people they have the power to make a decision about their wellbeing, about their personal health. Nobody can make that decision for them, and nobody can take that decision away either. So, that’s part of what we have to remind folks.
And for those of us who got the vaccine, we know — you know, look, now I can stand here with my mask off and have this conversation with you. And most of you can do the same with me, right? (Applause.)
And so, that’s the trade-off. That’s the trade-off: feeling — a few hours of feeling a little under the weather versus risking your life, risking the life of your loved ones. And I’d say, given that balance, it’s 100 percent worth it.
So, South Carolina, we need you to urge everyone you know to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated. Let everyone know, it’s for yourself, it’s for your family, it’s for your community.
And if you still have questions about the vaccine, that’s okay too. We have answers. You can get all the information you need at Vaccines.gov. Yes, I brought a website. (Laughter.) Vaccines.gov. And you can find a place to get vaccinated. So, you look up the locations near you so you can find the place where you can go and get vaccinated.
You know, we have come so far as a nation. Five months ago — just think about it — five months ago, we were averaging 185,000 new cases per day. Five months ago.
Today, COVID-19 case numbers are at their lowest point since the start of the pandemic. (Applause.) Deaths — right? But that’s because of the work. (Applause.) That’s because of the work everybody has been doing.
Deaths from COVID-19 have fallen by 90 percent from the peak. Small businesses are reopening. Students are back at school, in person. Grandparents are hugging their grandbabies again. All because 64 percent of American adults have received at least one dose of the vaccines. It is truly remarkable. Let’s just pause for a moment to think about this statement about who we are.
This thing was raging. And because of the leadership of the leaders in this room and so many others, we actually were able to change the course of this thing.
Remember how we all felt a year ago? And look at where we are now. It shows the power of not only science and the ingenuity that went into the vaccine; it shows the power of the human spirit to say, “We can beat this. We’re not going to let this get the best of us. We will handle this. And we will get through this.” And the most important word: there is “we” — not just “I.” “We,” together, will get through this.
And when the American people come together, we can do anything. President Joe Biden and I believe this with all our heart. We know what the American people are capable of. After all, in this country, when we shoot for the Moon, we plant our flag on it. That’s who we are. That’s who we are. (Applause.)
And so, from the very start of our administration, yes, we set ambitious goals. We said we would get 100 million shots in arms in 100 days. We passed that goal on day 58. Then we said we would get 200 million shots in arms in 100 days. Well, we passed that goal on day 92. (Applause.)
Then, President Joe Biden said that we would work to get 70 percent of American adults at least one shot by the Fourth of July. And during this Month of Action, of which we are all a part, we are working to meet that goal. And that’s why I’m here to, first of all, again, say thank you and to let you know, in person, we need your help. We need your help.
Across the country, Americans are getting the word out. Volunteers, like you, are going door to door and making phone calls and sending text messages to help their neighbors find a place to get vaccinated. We have hundreds of organizations and thousands of volunteers that are involved in this effort. And I want to thank South Carolina’s NAACP and all of you for stepping up. Thank you for keeping your community safe. Thank you for this act of service to your country.
I believe we can do this. I believe we can get America vaccinated — I truly do. And it all comes back to that point: Why? Well, because we believe in the importance of “love thy neighbor.” We believe in the importance of “love thy neighbor.”
And I’m going to tell you, I’ve been traveling the country. I’ve met people all over our country. And here’s what I know, and here’s what I see: At our best, and when we are strong, it is because Americans look out for each other. 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. And for that reason alone, Americans are going to keep getting vaccinated. We can do this, America. Together, we can do this.
I thank you, Greenville. I thank you, South Carolina. May God bless you, and may God bless America. Thank you all. (Applause.)
12:35 P.M. EDT