After Vice President Kamala Harris received her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in a televised event at the National Institutes of Health in January, Rep. Joyce Beatty's (D-Ohio) phone lit up with calls from constituents who were "newly curious" about getting vaccinated themselves, she told The New York Times.
As Beatty explained, watching a Black woman receive the vaccine "gave people hope and gave people education." Black Americans are nearly three times more likely to die from the coronavirus, the Times notes, but they are far less likely to be inoculated, in large part because of a lack of access, but also, some experts have pointed out, because of longstanding wariness about government-driven health programs.
Harris, it seems, was able to ease some of those concerns with her public vaccination, and she also has reportedly pressed President Biden and his advisers in private to focus on how their policies will ensure less advantaged people in both urban and rural settings are protected against the virus. "The vice president pushed us hard, in a very good way," Jeffrey Zients, Biden's coronavirus response coordinator, told the Times. "She pushed me on, 'Where are we on mobile vaccination units? How many are we going to have, in what period of time? Are they going to be able to reach rural communities and urban communities? How much progress have you made?" Read more about Harris' role in the Biden administration so far at The New York Times.