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VP Harris Holds Event In Washington, D.C., Pharmacy To Get More Vaccines In Arms

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The Biden administration is under a lot of pressure to increase COVID-19 vaccine supplies. Today, Vice President Harris held an event at a Washington, D.C., grocery store with an eye to the next challenge - getting vaccines into arms. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Like many grocery stores, this Giant in southeast D.C. has a pharmacy nestled in the corner. And the pharmacy, which is giving out COVID vaccines, is now more popular than ever.

SAMIR BALILE: We have people lining up all day wanting the vaccine.

KEITH: Pharmacist Samir Balile served as a guide for Vice President Harris' visit.

BALILE: This is the easy part, right?

KEITH: Yeah.

BALILE: Because we don't have enough to give the people who want it.

KEITH: That's the case all over the country - for now. But already the Biden administration is preparing for a time when people are going to need to be persuaded to roll up their sleeves and get their shots. Harris has been particularly focused on this challenge in communities of color, where people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and also tend to be more hesitant about the vaccine.

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: There have been many theories about populations that are experiencing vaccine hesitancy for legitimate reasons that are based on historical experiences that we should never forget.

KEITH: But she argued there are access issues, too. Vaccines need to be available in convenient and trusted locations. And Balile added, people may just not know what to expect, especially after the second dose.

BALILE: They just don't know, right? And for the most part, I think we all kind of don't know, right? (Laughter).

KEITH: It was then time for 69-year-old Brenda Thompson to get her second dose, while the vice president and a trailing press corps watched.

HARRIS: It's kind of weird to do it in front of all these cameras, isn't it?

BRENDA THOMPSON: (Laughter) Yes.

HARRIS: I know. I felt the same way (laughter).

THOMPSON: I'm like, can somebody come and hold my hand please?

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: I would, but, you know, got to stay 6 feet apart (laughter)

KEITH: Harris shared a bit of her own experience, one that is similar to what many people describe after their second shot. She went to work the day after, and then about midday, it hit her.

HARRIS: The first day that I got the shot, I felt fine. The next day, I realized I needed to take it a little slow. And then the day after, it was like nothing ever happened, but I knew I was vaccinated.

KEITH: The shot went in Thompson's arm, cheers broke out, and her thoughts turned to what she's been missing.

(APPLAUSE)

THOMPSON: I get to go see my great-grandson.

(LAUGHTER)

KEITH: Soon, Thompson will get to see her great-grandson again.

Tamara Keith, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.