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VP Harris in South Carolina to push COVID vaccination drive

Fitness & Health:

Vice President Kamala Harris is stopping in South Carolina as part of a monthlong push by the White House to get more Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 before the July 4 holiday

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Vice President Kamala Harris visited South Carolina on Monday to kick off a nationwide push to vaccinate millions more Americans against the coronavirus as July 4 holiday celebrations loom.

“They are safe, and they are free,” Harris said of the vaccines. “They are inspected, and it is that simple.”

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Some of those efforts, Harris said Monday, include partnering with rideshare services to offer free rides to vaccine sites, having pharmacies across the country that are open 24 hours a day and working with childcare facilities to offer free childcare as people get vaccinated and recover from their side effects.

“Americans care for one another. Americans love our neighbor and in a perfect stranger’s face we see a friend — that’s who we are when we are at our best,” Harris said. “And for that reason alone, Americans are going to keep getting vaccinated.”

The vice president’s visit also coincides with the state’s “COVID-19 Vaccine Action Week.” South Carolina health officials are making a concentrated push to get state residents rapidly vaccinated, offering walk-in events at rural health clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and even breweries in the coming days.

South Carolina NAACP leaders and public health officials joined Harris at the community center Monday, decrying how few people in Greenville had received their shots so far.

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The South has been home to some of the lowest coronavirus vaccination rates in the country, with Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia and South Carolina all in the bottom ten states for doses administered per capita as of Sunday, per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Less than 39% of South Carolina’s population was fully vaccinated as of last week, according to the state health department. South Carolina State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said the state has worked to eliminate barriers to ensure vaccine access in many non-traditional settings.

“Barriers to the vaccine is no longer the greatest issue,” Bell said. “It is choice.”

Harris later toured a pop-up vaccination site at an indoor basketball court at the YMCA of Greenville, where she spoke with staffers administering the shots and people who had just received their vaccine that afternoon. She was also scheduled Monday to join a conversation about voting rights with community leaders.

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Liu is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.

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