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Vice President Kamala Harris visits Jacksonville vaccination site, meets with local leaders about vaccine rollout

Vice President Kamala Harris visited the federally supported Gateway Mall vaccination site before heading to Feeding Northeast Florida's distribution center.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Vice President Kamala Harris stopped by the Gateway vaccination site in Jacksonville Monday afternoon. Navy officers staffing the site gave Harris a tour of the site. 

Harris also watched a high school English teacher get her second dose of the vaccine, according to the vice president's office. 

Jacksonville City Councilman Tommy Hazouri was inside the site when Harris arrived. Harris met with Hazouri, Mayor Lenny Curry, Congressman Al Lawson Jr. and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. 

Curry, Lawson and Fried were on hand at the airport to welcome Harris to Jacksonville prior to her arriving at Gateway. 

Hazouri said he and the mayor have been working together, and he thinks that both of them welcoming Harris at the site shows bipartisanship in the fight against COVID-19. He believes Harris appreciated that.

“Jacksonville has done a great job in rolling out the COVID-19 [vaccine]," Hazouri said. "We have a lot of work to do, but I think she [Harris] wanted to come out to really thank everyone for all the good hard work they’ve done. I told her to bring the president next time and she said she would."

RELATED: Vice President Kamala Harris visits Feeding Northeast Florida, leaving optimistic feeling

Hazouri said Harris also urged everyone to get the vaccine, and complimented the local efforts by first responders in the fight against COVID-19.

“She has heard about our fire department and she was bragging about them and the mayor, of course, explained everything he was doing. I told them how well it [vaccine rollout] was going and how well all of it was going and it is," Hazouri explained. "We just need to make sure we get more and more [people getting the vaccine]. You tell one person and they’ll tell another one that they got it and so forth and so forth and I think that’s one of the reasons she is here. and we were excited to have her."

Jennifer Chase, a professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville, was also inside the site when Harris arrived. Chase was in the observation area after getting her second dose of the vaccine.

“It's historic and she’s historic, more importantly," Chase said. "Politics aside, it’s a monumental occasion for someone that cares about all people and is inclusive and represents so much for some many people, whether you’re an Asian-American, a woman, whether you're African American, immigrants, all different kinds of people she resonates with”

About 30 to 40 people waited outside the site for Harris, including Zerelda Lewis. She said she's Vice President Harris' biggest fan. Lewis wore her pearls and Chuck Taylors for Harris. She said she never wore Chuck Taylors until Harris wore them. 

"I'm her number one fan because, number one, I'm a woman," Lewis said. "Number two, I'm an African-American woman. Number three I am a retired civil servant. I worked Supervisor of Elections for 31 years for the City of Jacksonville," she said.

Five-year-old Taylor Thomas also waited for Harris' arrival. She made a sign for her Black History Month project at school and brought it to Gateway Monday.

"My sign says 'Kamala Harris was the first African American, South Asian vice president of the United States," Taylor said.

Several of Harris' sorority sisters from Alpha Kappa Alpha also were at the site, including Dr. Normal White, the 25th international president of AKA.

"We are so happy and so proud," White said. "For years, we would've never thought we would get to this day and now that it here we are so happy and so proud and we will do everything we can to support her and to help her be very successful because one day she may be president."

Secret Service and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was on hand all morning prior to Harris' visit. Everyone who went inside the site, people getting their shots and staff, had to go through a tent where Secret Service searched their bags. 

While Harris was inside Gateway, no one was allowed in the vaccination tent other than those who were already inside at the time the vice president arrived.