- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 25, 2021

Vice President Kamala Harris promoted the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday as supply slowly increases and officials think about leaning on leery Americans.

Touring a Giant pharmacy in Southeast D.C., Ms. Harris said she felt sluggish after her second dose of the Moderna vaccine, but there was nothing to fear.

“Midday, I realized I might need to slow down a bit. Just that one day, and then it was fine,” Ms. Harris said.

The U.S. needs to vaccinate roughly 75% of the population as fast as possible to get the coronavirus pandemic under control in the coming months.

Demand far outstrips supply right now, and an increasing share of Americans tell pollsters they will seek out the vaccine as eligibility opens up.

Key groups remain in wait-and-see mode, however, including some Republicans and minority populations.

“If there’s been any reluctance, it has been among African Americans in our city,” Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city’s non-voting member of Congress, told Ms. Harris. “You are in an African-American community. I think seeing you here will encourage people to come forward to get vaccinated.”

Ms. Harris watched as Brenda Thompson, a 69-year-old eager to see her grandson, got her shot.

“It’s kind of weird to do it in front of all these cameras, isn’t it?” Ms. Harris said.

“I’m like, will somebody come and hold my hand, please?” Ms. Thompson said.

Samir Balile, a pharmacist and clinical program manager for the Giant chain, said they have people “lining up all day” for the vaccine but the next phase — when shots are in greater supply — will require an education campaign to bring people off the sidelines.

D.C. Health Commissioner LaQuandra Nesbitt said some D.C. residents are still deciding whether to get the vaccine.

“And we would tell them there are millions of people who’ve been vaccinated so you’re not the first. Right now we’ve got 50 million — over 50 million people — who’ve been vaccinated,” Dr. Nesbitt said.

Black Americans are sometimes wary of vaccines for historical reasons, including the “Tuskegee Syphilis Study” that mistreated Black men.

Meanwhile, some polling suggests white Republicans are among the most stubborn about COVID-19 vaccines, even though former President Trump turned their development into a cornerstone accomplishment.

Civiqs, an online polling company, found 56% of white Republican voters say they will not get vaccinated or are unsure about it — compared to 7% of white Democrats, 31% of Black voters and 30% of Hispanic voters.

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