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First Lady Jill Biden Stops In Dallas To Promote Vaccination Efforts

Jill Biden wears a coral-colored suit as she speaks into a microphone at an event.
T.J. Kirkpatrick/AP
Pool The New York Times
First lady Jill Biden speaks at a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site at Osceola Community Health Services in Kissimmee, Fla., on June 24, 2021.

First lady Jill Biden visited Dallas today as part of a nationwide tour to improve COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

She stopped by a vaccine clinic at the Emmett J. Conrad High School
in the northeast Dallas neighborhood of Vickery Meadow. Dressed in a purple suit and handkerchief, Dallas Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith accompanied her.

About a dozen people were getting a shot or in the observation area of the clinic when she arrived.

“How are we doing? Are the numbers up?” Biden asked at the registration table.

She then talked with teenager Chase Walters who was getting a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Once the teenager received his shot, the room broke out in applause.

“If you take care of yourself this way you take care of others,” Smith told Walters.

Dallas resident Jessenia Cabrera, 20, found out about the event from watching the news. Cabrera said she needs the COVID-19 shot because she regularly has face-to-face contact at her job as a restaurant hostess.

"Especially at work since we are starting to lift up the mandate. It’s really important to help spread the word," Cabrera said.

Last year, Cabrera voted for President Biden in her first presidential election. She said it felt special to get vaccinated at the First Lady’s event.

Emily Garcia and her mom Carla Sanchez.
Alejandra Martinez
Emily Garcia came to the vaccination event with her mom Carla Sanchez. Emily was motivated to get a COVID-19 shot because she wanted to meet her idol First Lady Jill Biden.

15-year-old Emily Garcia and her mom, Carla Sanchez, drove about 35 minutes to the vaccination event. Emily said she wasn't sure if she wanted to get the COVID-19 vaccine but when she saw her idol, First Lady Jill Biden, was coming into town, she told her mom she needed to attend the event.

"Estuvo bonito por que no pensé nunca verla a ella verdad? A conocerla. Pero la conoci!" Garcia said in Spanish. "I never thought I would get a chance to meet her. But I did!" Garcia said.

“I think that the excitement over her visit will hopefully inspire people to get vaccinated,” said Dallas City Council member Jaynie Schultz. She represents District 11, which includes North Dallas.

“It was a very smart move on her part to choose a part of Dallas that is vulnerable and does need to increase their vaccination rate.”

The neighborhood of Vickery Meadow is among the areas of Dallas County with the lowest vaccination rates, Schultz said.

There have been ongoing local efforts to promote vaccination in this area. Earlier this week, Conrad High School students went door to door giving out COVID-19 information inan effort to encourage people in the neighborhood to get vaccinated.

Biden later will join second gentleman Doug Emhoff to visit a vaccination event at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

President Joe Biden hoped to vaccinate 70% of American adults by July 4, but projections indicate the nation will fall short of that target.

The News reports that about 66% of adults have received one dose, while 56.8% are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 54% of all Americans — 179 million people — have received at least one dose, while 153 million people across the United States have been fully vaccinated, representing 46% of the population.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.