Pence Accuses Harris of ‘Playing Politics with People’s Lives’ by ‘Undermining Confidence’ in Vaccine

Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday accused Senator Kamala Harris of “playing politics with people’s lives” by saying that she would not take a vaccine for the coronavirus if it was endorsed by President Trump.

During Wednesday evening’s vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City, Harris said she would take a vaccine if it were approved by “public health professionals” including Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor for the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, but not if Trump signed off on it.

“If the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it, absolutely,” Harris said. “But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”

Pence immediately condemned the California senator’s position, saying she could be endangering lives by casting doubt on the efficacy of a potential vaccine against the deadly pathogen.

“The fact that you continue to undermine public confidence in a vaccine, if the vaccine emerges during the Trump administration, I think is unconscionable,” Pence responded.

“Senator, I just ask you, stop playing politics with people’s lives,” the vice president said.

In June, Fauci said that he is “cautiously optimistic” that a vaccine for the coronavirus will be available to the American public by the end of the year or early 2021.

“The reality is that we will have a vaccine, we believe, before the end of this year,” Pence continued at the debate. “And it will have the capacity to save countless American lives. And your continuous undermining of confidence in a vaccine is just unacceptable.”

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Stupid Cancer’s Matthew Zachary Is Fighting to Be the People’s Voice with Media Venture OffScrip

B-Freed Photography Matt Zachary

Matthew Zachary knows just how stressful a cancer diagnosis can be — and for the past 13 years, he’s built a career out of it as host of The Stupid Cancer Show.

The self-described “Howard Stern of radio for cancer,” Zachary has embraced being the face of patient advocacy since launching his company in 2007, 12 years after his brain cancer diagnosis gave him just six months to live at age 21.

“When you’re treated with cancer and you’re not 80 and you’re not 8, there’s varying degrees of ‘Oh s—ery’ that are different than you being a mom to an 8-year-old or worrying about your retirement in Florida,” he tells PEOPLE ahead of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which begins Thursday. “[Stupid Cancer] was the community I wish that I’d had and didn’t know I needed, didn’t know could exist.”

After a successful decade and a half at the helm, though, Zachary, 47, is moving on — not away from patient advocacy, but even deeper into it, with an “unfiltered” audio media company called OffScrip Media.

“You know how Crooked is like, a no [bulls—] show about politics? This is a no bulls— company about consumer advocacy when s— happens,” he explains.

B-Freed Photography

OffScrip is launching with a pair of podcasts hosted by the Brooklyn-based Zachary: NORDPod, a partnership with the National Organization for Rare Disorders, and Out of Patients, which he says aims to call “out all sorts of stupid BS in healthcare.”

Other shows include Brave New Weed and Am I Dying?!, and future plans include coverage of everything from oral hygiene and multiple sclerosis to the fight for equity in biological parenthood through disease and fertility preservation and adoption and surrogacy.

OffScrip is also releasing an exposé of sorts on breast cancer focused on long-ignored voices like those of transgender, LGBTQ and Black patients, which Zachary calls a “social justice issue within the small lens of healthcare.”

“I’m fighting for these people to be their voice,” he says. “I feel like we can be the company that elevates the voices that can be angry enough, but can stir the pot… That’s the endgame here: nothing matters unless it’s policy.”

B-Freed Photography Matthew Zachary

A three-part documentary called #BCSM will also hit airwaves for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, chronicling the birth of the breast cancer social media community and its impact as a global network of patients, caregivers, clinicians and researchers dedicated to empowering those affected by the disease.

The plan for OffScrip wasn’t yet developed when Zachary left Stupid Cancer in 2019, but the father of two said he knew it was time to move on, as his now-10-year-old twins were getting older and he wanted to spend more time watching them grow.

With that in mind, he took a year off to visit with friends in places like Seattle, Los Angeles and Boston, all the while engaging in conversations that would eventually lead to

How Racism Slowly Chips Away at Black People’s Health

Enduring is all I have. It’s what my ancestors passed on.

This is Race and Medicine, a series dedicated to unearthing the uncomfortable and sometimes life-threatening truth about racism in healthcare. By highlighting the experiences of Black people and honoring their health journeys, we look to a future where medical racism is a thing of the past.

A close relative asked if I watched the full videos of the most recent series of “open season” on Black life: the violence against Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, to name a few.

The truth is, I don’t have the mental or emotional capacity to endure watching these videos.

I’m just trying to stay well so I don’t compromise my immune system and catch a life threatening virus that’s attacking people’s respiratory systems. Meanwhile, the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement is ironically echoed by the slogan “I can’t breathe.”

I want to watch these videos to shake off my numbness, even go out and protest. Unfortunately, maintaining my health won’t allow me to show up in this way.

I sometimes find myself in bed trying to sleep long enough to miss the endless terrorizing news cycle with no trigger warnings. I’m overwhelmed and angry, and there’s no justice in sight.

With each shooting, life gets put on hold while I try to reckon again. I conjure up coping mechanisms for now. Running, cooking, and listening to music tend to divert my attention just long enough before the next news story.

However, I still feel burdened by this cycle, like there’s truly no escaping this racist society. Enduring is all I have. It’s what my ancestors passed on.

We are all focusing on protecting both our physical and our mental health during this pandemic; however, navigating this crisis is especially difficult for African Americans.

COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting the Black community. Black people are more likely to be essential workers in frontline jobs and are at a higher risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

On top of that, Black people are still fighting and marching to end systemic injustice. It all serves to reinforce how trivial Black life is considered in America. The weight of this reality is more than exhausting — it’s deteriorating.

Arline Geronimus, a Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan, developed the term weathering in 1992 to best describe what’s taking place.

Geronimus’ study found racial inequalities in health across a range of biological systems among adults. The study also found that these inequalities can’t be explained by racial differences in poverty.

Geronimus spoke with Healthline about her work.

“Weathering is… what happens to your body in a racist society. I named it weathering because I saw it as a way of capturing what it does,” Geronimus says. “Weathering happens when Black people have to demonstrate…resiliency in a racist society.”

There are numerous ways weathering can take place, from passing on trauma from one generation to the next, to workplace