Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) toured the Cincinnati Health Department Friday. Nurses who've been giving COVID-19 vaccinations talked about how the rollout is going and public reception.
Brown says medical professionals tell him people reluctant to get the shot need to hear positive stories from people they know.
"It's really not enough for people to hear from me or even from Dr. Fauci. People need to hear from reluctant friends or neighbors or relatives that got the vaccine and tell them about how safe it is and how it matters," he says. "That's all about sharing stories."
He acknowledges people in rural communities are less likely to be vaccinated or say they're willing to get the shot.
"Rural people have been a little harder to reach," he says. "That may have something to do with politics. That may have something to do with the view that they're less likely to be exposed because they're not around as many people. That's not entirely true."
He says the path to success is redoubling efforts from medical professionals and, again, vaccinated people encouraging their peers.
Brown Praises DeWine; Shares Thoughts On Candidates For Portman's Seat
As far as where he stands on lifting COVID-19 restrictions, Brown says that decision should be left to medical professionals. He praised Gov. Mike DeWine for following CDC recommendations.
"I think the governor has had a steady hand in this. I wish I could say the same about the legislature and the way the legislature has politicized this."
When asked about his thoughts on filling outgoing Ohio Sen. Rob Portman's (R-OH) seat with a Democrat, Brown says he thinks there's a good chance.
"Partly because the five - this is as political as I'm going to get, but since you asked - the five Republican candidates for Senate are like kids on a playground sticking their tongue out and saying Donald Trump loves me more than he loves you. That's really what we've seen during the Republican primary so far."
Brown adds that he thinks the race for the senate seat and Ohio governor will be competitive.
Current Outreach Efforts In Cincinnati
Much of the current push in Cincinnati currently is reaching Black and minority communities. The health department is scheduling vaccination clinics and block party style events within neighborhoods to make it easy to get inoculated.
Radio One personality Lashonda Hatch, better known to 101.1 The Wiz listeners as "Tropikana," says she's encouraging her listeners to get vaccinated and asked her listeners encourage each other to do the same. The station's target demographic is 18- to 34-year-old African Americans, she says.
"The one thing that you're hearing is that we are afraid of the vaccination, and that's not true. People just want more facts and information," she says. "It's more of a generation who want to have access to (the vaccine) quickly without having to go down to the Board of Elections ... it's more of bringing it directly to them and letting them know that I'll lead by example and show you that I've been vaccinated so you're OK as well. They just need to see it."
Like Hamilton County, the Cincinnati Health Department is preparing to reach kids 12 to 15 as soon as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration extends approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
"I want to convince parents it is OK. The vaccine is safe," says Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore. "We're hopeful next week we'll hear some good news ... and my medical director is ready to go to work with our schools as we've done in the past."
Sen. Brown is touring the state touting the American Rescue Plan and encouraging people to get inoculated.