Pro Football Hall of Famer Cliff Harris shared his love for his hometown and home state Tuesday afternoon by expressing the urgent need for people in Garland County to become vaccinated against COVID-19.
Harris, the Hot Springs' native who went on to play football at Ouachita Baptist Baptist University before collecting five super bowl rings in 10 years with the Dallas Cowboys, was the special guest at Healthy Connections, 3604 Central Ave., Suite D, where he spoke about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccines.
"Well, it feels great to be back in Hot Springs because I grew up in Hot Springs," he said. "Went to Greenwood Elementary and Hot Springs High School and Southwest Junior High and went to Ouachita Baptist and then made a short trip to Dallas and played for the Cowboys for 10 years and five super bowls and now I'm back through the Hall of Fame. And it's great to be back here.
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"I've got a place at Mountain Harbor and I love to come back and visit Hot Springs because it's where my heart is. You know, so that's why I want so much for these people, the Hot Springs people and the Arkansas people, to be protected and get this vaccination and protect themselves and their families."
Harris' appearance, sponsored by Healthy Connections Community Health Network and Ambetter for Arkansas Health and Wellness, is a part of the NFL Hall of Fame's effort to spread the word regarding the vaccine and its importance.
"The Hall of Fame set up this arrangement for me to come in and try to help convince people to take the COVID vaccination, and that's why I'm here -- because I care about Arkansas and Hot Springs, and I know that it's the best thing for the people," he said.
"This vaccine is something that they need to take to protect themselves and their families ... because it's been proven effective by Duke University and other great universities. And it's safe and it's something that needs to be done to eliminate COVID-19."
Harris said he has seen firsthand the effects of the virus as a business he works with has had several cases of the virus -- all of whom were unvaccinated.
"I know that I'm in a company today that I have seen and heard the results in our business that we've had victims of COVID," he said. "And those victims have all not been vaccinated. So we're very aware and we're pushing a lot of pressure to make our employees get the vaccination so they can take care of themselves and their families, and it's the best thing to do.
"I know there's a lot of questions about it but it is effective. The COVID vaccine is effective ... and it helps protect people from getting COVID," Harris said.
When asked what he would tell those who are hesitant about receiving the vaccination, Harris said the proof is now evident and the amount of unvaccinated patients dying or becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 is significant.
"You have to just look at the results of what's happening and when you find that the people that are getting COVID and are dying haven't had the vaccine," he said. "The vaccine is safe and it's going to protect you. And the way that we're going to rid the United States of this is to see more and more of the vaccinations done and need to be done so that we can eliminate this terrible situation that we're in."