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Jill Biden: Shots are miracles that don’t require faith

First Lady Jill Biden speaks at Jackson State University during a visit Tuesday.
First Lady Jill Biden speaks at Jackson State University during a visit Tuesday.(WLBT)
Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 3:21 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 7:54 AM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLBT) - First Lady Jill Biden said if you’re on the fence about getting the COVID-19 vaccination, remember the early days of the pandemic.

“Do you remember how quiet those streets were? Do you remember the empty grocery store aisles? And do you remember just how uncertain and how lonely many of us felt? We can’t lose that,” she said. “We can’t lose how that felt.”

Biden was in Jackson Tuesday afternoon to encourage Mississippians to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mississippi ramped up efforts earlier this year to get shots in arms but has lagged behind other states in vaccinating eligible adults.

“Only 35 percent of eligible people have been vaccinated, and that’s just not enough,” she said, speaking to a socially distanced crowd at Jackson State University. “Ad that’s why I wanted to come here today. That’s why the White House said ‘please, go to Mississippi, because the President and I, the White House, our administration... we care about you. We care about the people of Mississippi. We want them to be safe. We want them to be healthy.

“That’s why I’m here today, to ask all the people who can hear my voice and see my face to get your shots.”

Biden said she wanted those in attendance to remember three things: the vaccines are safe, the vaccines are effective, and the vaccines are free.

She acknowledged one student in attendance, who said he was afraid that the shot would hurt. “It doesn’t hurt,” she said. “I promise.”

The First Lady arrived at the Jackson-Medgar Evers Airport around 2:20 p.m., where she was greeted by Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Lumumba’s wife Ebony, and Congressman Bennie Thompson.

While on the tarmac, she shook hands and gave all three a hug. It’s something that she wouldn’t have been able to do without the vaccine.

“We’re getting back to the things we have lost for so long - like hugging the people you love,” she said.

Biden said she remembered the first person she hugged after getting a vaccination. It was a friend who is living with Diabetes - someone who is high-risk when it comes to dealing with complications of the COVID virus.

“We’re catching up with friends, smiling with strangers, because so many people have chosen to get vaccinated and now, in a lot of ways, the vaccines feel like a miracle,” she said. “And still there’s a lot of misinformation out there and people have a lot of questions... Was it created too fast? Was it tested enough?

“As a teacher and a mom and a nana, I wanted to be able to give the people the best answers I could,” she said. “So I asked some of the experts... The vaccines might feel like a miracle, but there’s no faith required. They’re the result of decades of rigorous scientific research and discoveries. They’re held to the same safety standards as every single vaccine here in America.”

Once she leaves Jackson, Biden will travel to Nashville, where she will visit a pop-up vaccination site with Country singer-songwriter Brad Paisley.

“These trips are part of the administration’s nationwide tour to reach millions of Americans who still need protection against the virus,” according to a news release from the Office of the First Lady.

More than 70 percent of Americans age 30 or older have received at least one dose of the vaccination, according to the Associated Press. However, the nation has fallen well short in achieving President Joe Biden’s goal of having that many Americans fully vaccinated by July 4, the AP reported.

In Mississippi, slightly more than a third of eligible residents are fully vaccinated, with another million or so having received the first dose, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health.

The state lags all other states in the nation based on the percentage of eligible adults receiving shots. By comparison, 39.2 percent of Alabama residents and 37.2 percent of Louisiana residents have received at least one, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Gov. Tate Reeves was not at events Tuesday but said in a statement that he welcomed Biden to the state and touted Mississippi as being “one of the very first states in America to offer all Mississippians access to a vaccine.

“To date, we have administered 1.99 million doses. We only have 90 of our fellow Mississippians hospitalized - down from 1,444 - and are reporting only 67 total new cases today - down from a peak of over 3,000,” he said. on Twitter.

Like Biden, the governor reiterated that the vaccines are safe and effective and are “an important part of our path beyond COVID and we welcome the First Lady of the United States, or anyone else, to help spread that message.”

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