Harris did not refuse to take the vaccine, nor did she discourage others from taking it, but she said she did not trust then-U.S. President Donald Trump’s vaccine rollout policy or his statements about COVID-19. She said she would listen to medical experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, but would not take Trump’s word for it.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been pushing people to get vaccinated, though numerous videos and social media posts would claim this was not always the case. According to heavily edited footage, and claims by conservative outlets and Republicans, during the 2020 presidential elections Harris was an anti-vaxxer who discouraged people from getting the vaccine, and refused to get the “Trump vaccine.”
Some of that footage can be seen here:
Republican Rep. Billy Long from Missouri, while talking to NPR in July 2021 about vaccine hesitancy among his constituents, claimed, “Kamala Harris refused to take the vaccine when she was campaigning because it was a Trump vaccine.”
Conservative blog Powerline stated, “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were themselves the most prominent of anti-vaxxers, and if some people took their skepticism too seriously, they have only themselves to blame.”
These claims are incorrect, Harris never expressed doubt about the efficacy of the vaccine itself, but rather showed skepticism about the vaccine rollout under Trump and his inaccurate statements regarding COVID-19. She referenced Trump’s claims that were not based in scientific fact, such as his suggestion that people could inject disinfectants as a form of treatment for COVID-19. In an interview with CNN in September 2020 (see transcript), Harris responded to a question about whether she would get vaccinated if there was a vaccine approved before the elections. She said:
Well, I think that's going to be an issue for all of us. I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump. And it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he's talking about. I will not take his word for it. He wants us to inject bleach. I -- no, I will not take his word.
When asked by Bash if she would take Dr. Anthony Fauci’s word on whether the vaccine was safe, she added, “No, I think Dr. Fauci has proven, for anyone who's been watching him for years and years, to put the public health of the American people as the highest priority in terms of his work and his reputation and his priority. Yes, I trust Dr. Fauci.”
During the October 2020 vice presidential debate, Harris categorically stated, “If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely. But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”
Given that Harris’ words were clearly misrepresented by numerous outlets and Long, and the video was selectively edited, we rate this claim as “False.”