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Vice President Kamala Harris Visits Chicago To Promote COVID Vaccine

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CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports Vice President Harris also spoke about the need to get past vaccine hesitancy to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19.

Video Transcript

IRIKA SARGENT: Now to a big money push to roll out more vaccines in Illinois. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention giving the state $90 million. Another $33 million going to Chicago alone. A big portion of all that cash is supposed to be used to vaccinate minority communities hit hardest by the virus. That push bringing Vice President Kamala Harris to Chicago today.

CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey joins us live in our streetside studio. Megan, it's a big problem here. The vaccines just don't seem to be reaching people in some neighborhoods.

MEGAN HICKEY: Right. Vice President Harris said it's everyone's job, not just politicians or celebrities, to combat vaccine hesitancy, and some communities have farther to go than others.

Vice President Kamala Harris was greeted by an elbow bump from Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot as she landed at Midway this afternoon, and then headed to this Chinatown union hall, to the first vaccination site in the nation run by the labor movement. Her remarks were unscripted.

KAMALA HARRIS: We're all here to make a statement that we understand the significance of getting vaccinated, that it's bigger than us.

MEGAN HICKEY: The Vice President pleaded with her socially distanced audience to spread the good word about vaccination.

KAMALA HARRIS: You've been reading about this thing called vaccine hesitancy. Some people just like, I don't know. Well, if you talk with them and talk about your experience, you will convince people.

MEGAN HICKEY: Andre Thomas knows the hesitancy well.

What is the number one answer you get?

ANDRE THOMAS: I think fear of the unknown.

MEGAN HICKEY: Thomas is a violence prevention specialist with the organization Target Area, who works closely with members in the Englewood community.

ANDRE THOMAS: The rate in the city has been really low.

MEGAN HICKEY: 8%. He's talking about the percentage of residents in the Englewood ZIP code 60621 who are fully vaccinated. Now compare that to 60611, a Near North Side ZIP code where 31% of residents are fully vaccinated. All while the COVID-19 death rate in Englewood is more than five times higher.

ANDRE THOMAS: There have to be barriers, there'd have to be a reason why when you compare that to other populations.

MEGAN HICKEY: Thomas believes not just supplies, but education is key, something the Vice President echoed.

KAMALA HARRIS: Remind people of their power to do something that will save their lives.

MEGAN HICKEY: That union vaccination site is distributing Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and they're expected to handle approximately 1,200 vaccinations per week. Live in the streetside studio, Megan Hickey, CBS 2 Investigators.