Vice President Kamala Harris brought the Biden administration’s “Month of Action” campaign for COVID-19 vaccinations to Atlanta Friday.
After dropping by a vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. once preached and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., now occupies the pulpit, Harris spoke to students at Clark Atlanta University.
As of this week, 3.69 million Georgians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 34.8% of the state’s population, a rate that lags the national average of 44.1%.
“We can do better,” Harris said Friday. “And we have to address the legitimate barriers that stand in the way of some folks getting the vaccines. … We need to meet people where they are.”
Harris noted some pharmacies are staying open late on Fridays to serve people who work late. In some cases, businesses are offering incentives to encourage their employees to get vaccinated, while rideshare companies are providing free rides, she said,
“There [are] resources available, but we need to do a better job of letting people know what’s out there,” the vice president told the students. “That’s why we need your help, so we can address all those barriers.”
Warnock; U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga.; U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta; and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms appeared with Harris at Clark Atlanta.
“Tell everyone you know to get vaccinated,” Warnock said. “I’m grateful because of this vaccine I was able to visit my 83-year-old mother in Savannah without fear of getting sick.”
“We’ve come a long way, but we’ve got miles to go,” added Bottoms, who contracted COVID-19 last summer. “Do what you can to make sure progress continues. This really is about life and death.”
Georgia just passed the 900,000 mark in confirmed cases of the virus since the pandemic began, with 900,368 cases. COVID-19 has hospitalized 64,525 Georgians and killed 18,368, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Republicans used Harris’ visit to Georgia to echo criticism the vice president heard when she did not visit the U.S.-Mexican border during a trip to Guatemala and Mexico last week.
President Joe Biden has assigned Harris the task of working to resolve the problems of poverty and crime that have driven tens of thousands of Central Americans to flee their home countries for the United States.
“Biden and Harris have created a growing border crisis and today, day 86 as Biden’s crisis ‘manager,’ Harris is in Atlanta,” said Savannah Viar, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. “Instead of grandstanding in Georgia, Harris needs to visit our southern border immediately.”