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First Lady, Fauci In Tampa, Kissimmee For Vaccine Push Before July Fourth

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Darren Soto
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

First lady Jill Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci were in Florida on Thursday urging residents to get a coronavirus vaccine.

First lady Jill Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci, medical adviser to the president, were at a vaccination event Thursday at Osceola Community Health Services before an appearance at Amalie Arena in Tampa later in the day.

The first lady and other members of the Biden administration have been traveling around the country in recent days to encourage people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. They hope to reach President Joe Biden's goal of getting 70% of the country vaccinated by July Fourth.

The White House has said the nation will narrowly miss the goal. In Florida, only 44% of people old enough to get the shots are fully vaccinated, and only 64% have taken one dose.

"You know that is just not enough," Biden said at Amelie Arena, where she took part in the Tampa Bay Lightning and AdventHealth's Shot on Ice event.

AdventHealth gave vaccinations and the hockey team selected a handful of people in a drawing to receive tickets to Friday's night's playoff game against the New York Islanders.

Biden, a Philadelphia Flyers fan, said, "There are some things that transcend even hockey," as she complimented Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who attended the event with Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

Earlier in the day in Kissimmee, dozens of cars lined up for COVID-19 testing and vaccination event at Osceola Community Health Services.

Fauci and Biden talked to families as they got their shots inside their vehicles.

Biden told Orlando-area leaders like Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, and Father Jose Rodriguez, of Orlando's Iglesia Jesus de Nazaret Episcopal Church, that everyone should get the shot.

“The first car that I saw, there were two women in there," Biden said. "And one woman said, You know, I don’t know can I get this because I have diabetes and I have high blood pressure,' " Biden said.

"And I said to Dr. Fauci, ‘What do you think, Dr. Fauci?’ And he said, ‘This is the type of person who should be protected, who should get the vaccine because she’s vulnerable’.”

Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health, put it this way:

“The one thing we tell each other back in Washington, and in Bethesda (Maryland) at the NIH. is that a vaccine in a bottle on a shelf isn’t any good. A vaccine in the arm is what we want, and that’s exactly what you’re doing. So please keep up your extraordinary work.”

Fauci said vaccines are the only way to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

WMFE's Danielle Prieur contributed to this report.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.