MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The second gentleman, Doug Emhoff visited Memphis Wednesday to encourage residents to get vaccinated.
"Memphis I am back," said Emhoff to a crowd outside of Douglass High School.
Emhoff joined the Shelby County Voter Alliance to kick off a community canvassing campaign.
"I wanted to come back here and thank you all for the work that you're doing on the frontlines to promote what is saving lives," said Emhoff.
The second gentleman's wife, Vice President Kamala Harris, and other Biden administration officials are making stops in several southern states to promote a White House coronavirus vaccination effort.
"We need to do better, we need to do better here,” Emhoff commented. “We need to do better all around the country. That's why myself, the vice president, the first lady, president, other members of the administration are on this month-long tour to talk about vaccines."
A local pharmacist spoke on vaccine hesitancy and how residents can encourage others to take the COVID-19 shot.
"If you've been vaccinated I want you to find one person that has not been vaccinated,” said local pharmacist Nathanial Boutte. “Share your story with them. Let them know why you got vaccinated."
The second gentleman reminded residents they can receive their covid shots at doctor’s offices and pharmacies. He also took a tour of the Pipkin vaccination site greeting volunteers.
"I think miseducation and misinformation,” said Lisa Rodgers, the operations manager for COVID testing with UCH, when asked what the biggest deterrent to people getting vaccines. “I think a lot of times in this world of social media there's so much information out there that it's hard to decipher what's correct and what's accurate. So when you're filled with so much information you don't know what's right and wrong."
The message from Emhoff, that the fight against COVID? Not over.
"Imagine if you don't get vaccinated maybe you think I'm young, I'm not going to get sick,” said the second gentleman. “You're carrying it and you know these variants they're talking about, delta variant, these are rough."
Below is the latest from the White House on Emhoff's visit Wednesday:
Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff pushed for the hesitant to get vaccinated at Memphis' Douglass High School Wednesday afternoon. His visit was part of a nationwide tour aimed at boosting COVID-19 vaccination rates.
The second gentleman was also joined by community leaders who implored the crowd of about 75 to tell those they knew without a shot to get one.
Nathaniel Boute, a local pharmacist, spoke about vaccine hesitancy and how he convinced his reluctant parents to get vaccinated by withholding visits from their grandson.
Memphis City Councilwoman Michalyn Easter-Thomas commended President Joe Biden’s administration for being intentional about vaccine access.
The second gentleman kicked off a vaccine canvassing event in the Douglass neighborhood of North Memphis. The neighborhood, high school and nearby park are named for famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
“We need to do better. We need to better here,” Emhoff said. “We’re on a path to a more normal life but we are not there yet.”
He noted that he went to the Washington Nationals game Tuesday.
“Why was I able to do that?,” Emhoff said “Because I’m vaccinated.”
The second gentleman noted the ever-present coronavirus variants, saying that the unvaccinated were putting themselves and those around them at risk.
“I’m going to a site right after this. If you need one, come with,” Emhoff said.
Emhoff's visit highlighted the continued efforts of local volunteers. The Shelby County Voter Alliance, a grassroots organization aimed at boosting voter turnout, has been vaccine canvassing throughout the spring and early summer.
The group — typically between a handful and several dozen volunteers — have gone door-to-door with flyers telling residents where and when they can get a vaccine. The voter alliance has canvassed ahead of about 10 pop-up vaccination sites. After the canvassing, the Memphis Fire Department sets up a vaccination site.
The fire department is planning a vaccination event during the Juneteenth celebrations at Douglass Park. The vaccinations will be available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.
Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, also visited Memphis in May, touting the American Jobs Plan, an infrastructure bill.
After the event in North Memphis, Emhoff was scheduled to go to the Pipkin vaccination site in Midtown Memphis.