AOC Talks Vaccines at Virtual Town Hall Meeting

By Kendrick Davis

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hosted her monthly virtual town hall meeting on February 9 and talked about a topic of growing importance to New Yorkers everywhere: the COVID-19 vaccine.

Special Advisor to the Governor Ruth Hassell-Thompson and NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi were invited to help answer questions about the vaccine at the state and local level.

The three had a clear message throughout the meeting: they wanted New Yorkers to trust that the COVID-19 vaccines will be effective and will be easy to access.

Early in the meeting, Ocasio-Cortez shared a story about a town hall meeting from a couple months ago when the vaccine was first announced. Many of her constituents wanted to know if she would be taking the vaccine herself. As funny as AOC found this, she was acutely aware of why it was such an important question to her listeners. So as a show of good faith and accountability, she received her first dose of the vaccine in mid-December and the second dose in mid-January. She admitted that the shots left her sore and fatigued but vouched for the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

AOC announced that the federal government would partner with large pharmaceutical companies and community health clinics to help with the distribution of the vaccine. The Federal Emergency Management Agency would also reimburse qualified families thousands of dollars to cover funeral expenses that were the result of COVID-19.

When Special Advisor Hassell- Thompson took the floor, she touched on America’s issue with the disparity in healthcare for the poor and the communities of people of color and acknowledged that it was an issue that has been occurring well before the COVID outbreak.

Hassell-Thompson assured the listeners that her taskforce would not allow these disparities to prevent the distribution of the vaccine.

“We have one mission: getting shots into the arms of our constituents and we need to do that in the most equitable way possible,” said Hassell-Thompson.

During Dr. Chokshi’s segment, he declared that America was still in a state of emergency concerning the pandemic, claiming that some New York City communities were spiking at a 15% infection rate for COVID.

Dr. Chokshi said he has faith in the vaccine and he believed getting Americans to trust the vaccine would be the first step in returning to normalcy.

“Trust is an essential ingredient for turning vaccines into vaccinations,” said Dr. Chokshi.

Ocasio-Cortez’s constituents were especially eager to participate during February’s live stream.

“This month’s town hall has broken the record for most amount of [listener] questions submitted in advance,” said Ocasio-Cortez.

One asked if the military would assist in the distribution of vaccines. “The Administration will deploy 1000 troop across the country to help with vaccine distribution,” said AOC.

Another asked for advise about how to inform and encourage friends and family to take the vaccine. “Approach them without any judgement,” she suggested. “Skepticism is understandable in the context of this country.”

One attendee ask about whether there were plans for teachers and Department of Education employees to get the vaccine.  “There will be dedicated sites and vaccines that will prioritize Department of Education employees,” said Dr. Chokshi.

These questions and more can be found on the replay for the Virtual Town Hall Meeting at the  24:40 mark.

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