This was Harris’ first visit to Chicago since becoming vice president and came as the White House announced vaccines will be available to every adult in the nation as of April 19.
Vice President Kamala Harris, in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon to showcase the Biden administration COVID vaccination drive — and its equity efforts — delivered a bunch of “shots in the arm” while she was here.
Figuratively, of course.
The Harris Chicago shots in the arm boosted:
·Organized labor, a mainstay of the Democratic base. She toured a vaccination center organized by the Chicago Federation of Labor in partnership with the City of Chicago at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399 union hall at 2260 S. Grove St. It’s for Chicago area union members who are eligible for the vaccine.
· Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who invited Harris to Chicago to highlight the city’s vaccination efforts.
· Brown Sugar Bakery, a Black-woman-owned small business at 328 E. 75th St. that survived through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Harris was presented with a giant tray of cupcakes and a German Chocolate cake — one of her favorites — at the publicly unannounced stop at the storefront bakery.
·People who may need to hear it again — get the vaccine.
This was Harris’ first visit to Chicago since becoming vice president and came as the White House announced vaccines will be available to every adult in the nation as of April 19 – earlier than the May 1 goal earlier set by Biden. Gov. J.B. Pritzker set an even earlier date — all residents 16 and older will be eligible as of April 12.
Opening up vaccines to adults puts additional pressure on the Biden White House — and in our case, Pritzker and Lightfoot — to reduce the frustration factor and other barriers so booking an appointment is as easy and accessible as possible.
And that’s before we even get to the issue of vaccine hesitancy. Getting the shots to people who want them — in an equitable way that leaves no one behind — has been the common goal of every Democrat in Illinois plus the Biden White House. There has been a giant effort to reach out to Black, Brown and rural communities in Illinois.
That it is easier said than done — even among like-minded officials who agree that equity is a priority — shows the challenges remaining and potentially growing in the coming weeks as the vaccine supply becomes more plentiful and more people are allowed access to the shots.
To bolster local efforts, in the morning, the Centers for Disease Control said Illinois will be getting another $90 million — and Chicago $33 million — to boost vaccination “uptake and equity.” Lightfoot runs the Chicago vaccination program and Pritzker handles the rest of the state.
The Chicago Federation of Labor vaccine center, the White House said, is the first-in-the-nation union-run site. It can handle about 1,200 vaccinations a week at present with more jabs possible when supplies permit.
Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth — and Rep. Danny Davis — all Democrats — joined Harris, Lightfoot and Pritzker at the CFL event. The Chicago Federation of Labor has an ownership interest in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Said Harris, “It’s good to be in the house of Labor.”
It is thought that one of the best ways to convince people to get the vaccine is to get people they trust to vouch for it. To that end, Harris said, it is important “for those who have received the vaccine” to “please tell all your friends and aunties and uncles and grandparents and kids” to get the shot “when it’s their turn.”
Unionized Jewel-Osco workers were vaccinating people during the event and one of them was Lucio Polanco, a 20-year, SEIU member. He is a high-rise window washer.
Harris asked him about the tallest building where he washed windows. The answer — some irony here — was the Trump Tower at 401 N. Wabash Ave.
After that, the Harris motorcade zipped to an unannounced stop, the Brown Sugar Bakery. Harris was joined by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and lieutenant governor of Illinois Juliana Stratton.
The officials, all Black women, threw a spotlight on a Black-woman-owned small business that survived, despite being closed for a few months last year.
One of the bakery staffers, Sha Hines, who told me she called herself “the cakeinator” presented the giant tray of cupcakes to Harris.
Shots in the arm delivered, Harris headed back to Midway and boarded Air Force Two for Washington.
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April 6, 2021 at 07:46PM