VP Kamala Harris visits Chicago to highlight COVID vaccine equity

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Vice President Kamala Harris made her first official visit to Chicago Tuesday.

It came on the same day President Joe Biden announced that everyone 16 and older will be eligible to get vaccinated starting April 19, moving up his deadline by two weeks.

WATCH | VP Kamala Harris speaks at Chicago vaccination site


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Vice President Kamala Harris visits a vaccination site in Chicago's Chinatown neighborhood.



Harris arrived at Midway Airport Tuesday morning and visited a union hall in Chinatown that is operating as a vaccine clinic. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot extended the invitation last week.

"We're seeing incredible success in this facility with labor vaccinating labor, it's just terrific," Harris said.

SEE ALSO | VP Kamala Harris visits bakery on Chicago's South Side



Harris said she was here to thank union members for doing their part in getting vaccinated, but also to ask them to be ambassadors to family, friends and co-workers who have not gotten their shots and may be hesitant.

"Please help us to tell your friends and your family members and your co-workers that when it's their time to get vaccinated, remind people of their power to do something that will save their lives," Harris told the crowd. "The people who carry the most weight are our peers, the people we respect. So I'm here to ask you to do a little bit more and help us, so we can truly get back up on our feet."

SEE ALSO | Chicago will open vaccinations to everyone 16 and older by April 19, Lightfoot says



Harris toured the union-run vaccination clinic, praising the effort Chicago is making in getting people vaccinated. She talked with those preparing the shots and spoke briefly with a high-rise window washer who was there to get his shot.

"People understand that to get vaccinated is about saving your life," Harris said. "It's about saving life and your family and your community. And so you saw what people are doing, they are coming in. It's a quick process and it will save your life."

After the event, Harris spoke one-on-one with ABC7 political reporter Craig Wall.

WATCH | Kamala Harris addresses Chicago vaccine supply
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Vice President Kamala Harris toured a union-run vaccination clinic in Chinatown, praising the effort Chicago is making in getting people vaccinated.



"Your administration is committed to equity, so why is Chicago not getting more vaccine?" Harris was asked.

"Oh but Chicago is getting more vaccine," Harris replied, despite Mayor Lori Lightfoot's previous complaints that the city was not getting enough vaccine.

"Well we are sending vaccines to the state as we have done and also, as you may know, the president this morning announced that we're also sending more resources to each of the states," Harris said.

SEE ALSO: Biden moving US COVID-19 vaccine eligibility date to April 19, official says



The CDC is sending more than $90 million to the state and nearly $34 million to Chicago to increase access to the vaccine.

"I will tell you that we are very excited, we announced today that 150 million shots have gone out," Harris said.

WATCH | Kamala Harris on vaccine passports, Indiana lifting mask mandate
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On her first official visit to Chicago, Vice President Kamala Harris toured a union hall vaccination site where 800 people got their shots.



The vice president side-stepped the controversial idea of vaccine passports.

"You know, I think what we want to do most of all make sure is that everybody is vaccinated and that's where I'm focused," she said.

Mayor Lightfoot, who was among the dignitaries with the vice president, put aside frustrations over vaccine supply.

"Vice President Harris, as you all know, has been a champion in making sure that we get the nation vaccinated. There's more work to do but tremendous progress since this team was inaugurated," Lightfoot said. "The summer that we hoped for, the reunions that we love, just to be able to see our families and hold them tight, all of that depends on us getting vaccinated."

Harris disagreed with states like Indiana, where a mask mandate was lifted Tuesday.

"Wearing a mask will save your life and the life of people around you and it is just a smart thing to do," Harris said.

The vice president echoed a familiar theme of President Biden, saying that by getting vaccinated, people will help the country build back better.
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