The vice president-elect received her first of two shots of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at United Medical Center in the southeast portion of the District of Columbia, in an event that was carried live on all three major national cable news networks.
"I want to encourage everyone to get the vaccine. It is relatively painless, it happens really quickly. It is safe," Harris emphasized after receiving her shot.
The vice president-elect stressed, "This is about saving lives. It's literally about saving lives. I trust the scientists, and it is the scientists who created and approved this vaccine everyone. So I urge everyone, when it is your turn, get vaccinated. It's about saving your life, the life of your family members, and the life of your community."
Harris made headlines during the general election campaign in September when she said she wouldn’t take President Trump's word when it came to the reliability of any coronavirus vaccine that would be produced before the presidential election in November. Trump repeatedly teased that a vaccine might be approved ahead of the November election.
A month later, in a heated debate clash with Vice President Mike Pence, Harris repeated her argument that she would only take the vaccine if it was approved by scientific leaders, including infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
"If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it, absolutely," Harris said at the debate. "But if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I’m not taking it."
Pence fired back, charging that "the fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine, if a vaccine emerges during the Trump administration, I think is unconscionable, and Senator, I just ask you to stop playing politics with peoples’ lives."
The vice president-elect and senator from California is the latest political leader to publicly take the shot, in an effort to make Americans more confident about getting vaccinated.
President-elect Joe Biden was vaccinated eight days ago, in an event at a hospital near his home in Wilmington, Del. that was broadcast live on national TV.
"I'm doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared, when it's available, to take the vaccine. There's nothing to worry about," Biden said after receiving his shot.
And a few days earlier, Pence called it a "medical miracle," as he received his vaccination, in an event that was also nationally televised. He emphasized that the vaccine was "safe and effective," as he was joined in taking the shots by his wife, second lady Karen Pence, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also publicized their recent injections as part of the campaign to convince skeptical Americans that the shots are safe. Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have said they will take the vaccine publicly to also inspire confidence among Americans.
Trump who was hospitalized with COVID in October, has not said when he’ll take his vaccination.
A Fox News national poll conducted earlier this month indicated that 61% of Americans plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19, up from 54% in September. Among the 28% who do not plan to be vaccinated, the top reasons include that its development was rushed (23%), a lack of trust it will work (21%), opposition to vaccines generally (13%), distrust of the government (10%), and concern about side effects (9%).
Public opinion polling indicates that minority communities are more skeptical about taking the vaccine.
Harris, who is the first female, first African American and first Asian American to be elected vice president, took her vaccine in Anacostia, which is a predominantly minority community in the nation’s capital.
She emphasized that "we have hospitals and medical centers and clinics like this, 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 health care or so I want to remind people that right in your community is where you can take the vaccine, where you will receive the vaccine, by folks you might know."
It’s been 15 days since the first doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine were injected into health care workers, who are on the front lines in the battle against a pandemic that’s taken the lives of more than 335,000 Americans since the virus first swept the nation in February and March, with nearly 20 million cases of the virus reported.
The vaccine was authorized days earlier by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use, and the first doses were delivered to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Days later a vaccine produced by Moderna was approved for emergency use approval by the FDA.
Biden, during his vaccination, credited the Trump administration, saying, "I think the administration deserves some credit for getting us off the ground with Operation Warp Speed."
Warp Speed is the name of the federal program implemented by the White House this year to work with the major drug manufacturers to produce a coronavirus vaccine.