Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) flirted with vaccine skepticism earlier this year when doing so might have been politically harmful to President Donald Trump.
Just weeks after saying she was uncertain about the safety of a COVID-19 inoculation developed under the Trump administration, however, she showed up at the front of the line to receive her first shot.
“This is about saving lives”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate followed up by encouraging all Americans to follow her example and receive the vaccine when it is available to them.
“It is relatively painless,” Harris said on Tuesday after receiving her first dose in a two-part vaccination process. “Literally, this is about saving lives.”
Despite her prospective role as the next vice-president, some critics are wondering why she received a shot ahead of many healthcare workers and those in vulnerable communities.
Furthermore, detractors noted that, by her own admission, a vaccine brought to the market by the Trump administration should not be trusted without overwhelming evidence of its safety and efficacy.
“If the public health professionals, if Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it,” she said during the vice-presidential debate in October. “If Donald Trump tells us to take it, I’m not taking it.”
“I trust the scientists”
Her recent reversal could be linked to the fact that Fauci, a top White House coronavirus task force adviser, did declare the vaccine safe and effective.
Of course, the Democratic senator has also opened herself up to allegations that she had merely been engaging in a cynical partisan ploy by denigrating the efforts of the Trump administration in the weeks and months leading up to Election Day.
In any case, her most recent rhetoric is decidedly more optimistic.
“I trust the scientists, and it is the scientists who created and approved this vaccine,” Harris said. “So I urge everyone, when it is your turn, get vaccinated. It’s about saving your life, the life of your family members, and the life of your community.”
For his part, Biden also received a public inoculation after earlier casting doubt on its reliability, declaring this week that he “took it to instill public confidence in the vaccine” and expressing hope that “the president will clearly and unambiguously urge all Americans to take the vaccine once it’s available.”