SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif.-Rep. Salud Carbajal invited public health leaders to attend the President's speech virtually on Wednesday evening.
The congressman invited San Luis Obispo Public Health Director Dr. Penny Borenstein who received her medical degree from SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse in New York and her Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland.
He also invited Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso who earned a master’s in public health from UC Berkeley and a doctorate from UC Merced.
Carbajal credits public health with playing a key role in overseeing local vaccine distribution.
After President Biden's first speech to the joint session of Congress, Carbajal hosted a virtual press conference with Dr. Borenstein and Do-Reynoso.
Van Do-Reynoso asked Rep. Carbajal for a rain check to visit him in Washington, D.C. when they are no longer fighting the pandemic.
Carbajal said yes and called his virtual guests health care heroes.
He applauded President Biden's speech and described it as bipartisan.
"Not once did he demagogue anyone, not once did he divide us, did he do anything to put anyone down," said Carbajal.
President Biden said 220 million vaccine doses were administered in his first 100 days.
Public health directors said they still need to administer more.
"While there may be some who have malintent, just dug in for political or other reasons, that they have no interest in at this time. What we need to deal with is on third of the population who need more information," said Dr. Borenstein.
She said public health needs to listen to them and show them that no steps were skipped when they created and tested the vaccines.
Do-Reynoso said so far they have vaccinated the low hanging fruit or the people who follow the science.
She said it is important to identify people who are vaccine hesitant and reach out to them through their doctors, and their churches and community groups.
Dr. Borenstein said lifting the emergency use authorization known as the EUA will help.
Congressman Carbajal said that is under consideration.
Both public health directors said they are working with community leaders, and non profits to dispel vaccine myths and send the right message.