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Michelle Obama says people around her family need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19

Michelle Obama says "get your vaccine"
Michelle Obama says "get your vaccine" 07:35

Michelle Obama is speaking out about the need for Americans to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Speaking with "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King, the former first lady discussed the pandemic's impact on mental health along with other issues facing the United States, including work that still needs to be done to end systemic racism in the wake of fired officer Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict.

During the second episode of her podcast, Obama revealed in August 2020 that she was suffering from low-grade depression over the pandemic, racial issues that were coming to a head that summer and the Trump administration's effect through it all. 

Obama told King she felt it was important to "say it out loud."

"To not feel depressed, you know, with all that was going on over the course of this year — it's sort of, like, 'So you feel okay in all of this?' You know, and sometimes we just need to speak the truth," she said. "When there is such uncertainty and unrest, and lack of leadership and calm, it is upsetting. It shakes you."

She acknowledged that ups and downs were common throughout life — what's important, Obama said, was to "own that that happens to us."

Using herself as an example, Obama said she developed her own set of tools to cope. One of those tools involves turning off the television when she's on "the ledge."

"I think I want young people to be comfortable with identifying those peaks and valleys, and knowing that those valleys don't last forever," she said. 

"I just don't want any young person to make a decision about anything when they're in a valley. You know? They have to know that time will move you to a better place."

King likened the U.S. slowly moving away from the surging coronavirus cases of 2020 to a light at the end of the tunnel.

"Well, it'd be better light if people would get vaccinated," Obama added.

She said the science behind a COVID-19 vaccine was the "same science that's behind aspirin and insulin."

Obama revealed a new rule for those who come into contact with her family: "Be vaccinated."

"You wanna hang out with us? Get your vaccine. Get all of it. Finish it up. And then we can talk," the former first lady laughed. "So I urge everybody out there, within the sound of our voices, please, please get the vaccine. It's time."

The pandemic is not the only crisis affecting the country. Nearly one year since George Floyd's murder, there is still an urgent call across the nation to address systemic racism — in particular, the continued reports of Black people dying at the hands of police. 

"There's clearly issues between the Black community and policing. And it seems there are still so many people that don't wanna even admit that there's a problem with racism in this country," King said.

Obama agreed.

"I wish I had an answer. You know, for me it goes back to — we have to get to know each other," she said. And so much of what is going on is that if you've been raised to assume that all Black people are X."

In the case of Black men and police officers, Obama said, the scenarios can sadly lead to death.

In the tradition of most first families, the Obamas do not often speak out in public. However former President Barack Obama and the former first lady released a powerful statement after Chauvin was found guilty of all charges in Floyd's death. 

"The goal is to let leaders lead. But in certain times, people, you know, look to us often. 'Well, what do you think? How do you feel?' And we know that while we're all breathing a sigh of relief over the verdict, there's still work to be done. And so we can't sort of say, 'Great. That happened. Let's move on.' I know that people in the Black community don't feel that way. Because they— many of us still live in fear, as we go to the grocery store, or worry about walking our dogs — or allowing our children to get a license. I mean, just imagine," Obama said.

Her own daughters, Sasha and Malia, have recently started driving. Obama is worried for their safety — "about what assumption is being made by somebody who doesn't know everything about them."

"They are good students and polite girls… But maybe they're playin' their music a little loud. Maybe somebody sees the back of their head and makes an assumption. I, like so many parents of Black kids, have to — that the innocent act of getting a license, puts fear in our hearts," she said.

Sasha and Malia were only 7 and 10 years old when the Obamas entered the White House. Both are now in college and turning 20 and 23 respectively, with Malia set to graduate this year.

"I don't even have teenagers anymore," Obama remarked.

However, she is excited for Malia's next chapter — but still feels concerns. 

"I don't wanna have to worry about her entering a world where she has to worry about how people would treat her because of the color of her skin. So  I am excited. But I'd like to be more excited to know that as she goes out and gets her first apartment, and rides the subway somewhere…that they don't make assumptions about her based on the color of her skin," Obama said.

"That she's not at risk, out there in the world, as an adult, because she's a Black woman."

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