Speaking at a pediatric COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Virginia on Monday, first lady Jill Biden urged parents to vaccinate their kids, part of the Biden administration’s efforts to end the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is the best way to protect your children against COVID-19,” she said. “It’s been thoroughly reviewed and rigorously tested. It’s safe. It’s free. And it’s available for every child in this country 5 and up.”
“Parenthood and worrying go hand in hand. It’s just what we do as parents,” the first lady continued. “So I can’t promise you that the dangers of this world will become any less frightening — I mean, just wait until your kids start driving. But with this vaccine we can take away at least one of your worries. A big one.”
“From the day you held your sweet, fragile little baby, you have made the choice again and again to keep your children safe,” she added. “Giving your child the COVID vaccine is your choice too. So please, make the decision to protect your children with the same vaccine that has already saved millions of lives."
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy also spoke at the event at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Va., the first school to administer the polio vaccine in 1954.
“This vaccine will help protect children and communities from COVID-19,” Murthy said. “Because we know two very important things about the vaccine. No. 1, it works. And No. 2, it has a strong safety profile.”
Murthy also warned parents to watch out for misinformation.
“We know that already, as soon as news of the vaccines came through, many parents saw their inboxes, their text and social media feeds flooded with false claims about the vaccine,” he said. “We’re asking parents [to] be careful about where they get their information from.”
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, citing clinical trials that found it both safe and more than 90 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infection in kids. The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for the first pediatric COVID-19 vaccine late last month.
In clearing those regulatory hurdles, roughly 28 million children ages 5 to 11 in the United States are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for the first time — a welcome development for parents who had no choice but to send their children back to school unvaccinated while the hypercontagious Delta variant was hospitalizing a record 30,000 of their peers each month.
According to the CDC, 80 percent of Americans 18 and older have received at least one vaccine dose. But fewer than 60 percent of adolescents have received one or more doses, and polls indicate that roughly a third of U.S. parents plan to leave their elementary-school-age children unvaccinated.
More than 65,000 children under 17 have been hospitalized for COVID-19 nationwide, per CDC data, and 897 have died.
“Having the vaccine available for children isn’t just critical for parents. It’s critical for everybody,” Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor who previously served as Baltimore’s health commissioner, told Yahoo News last week.
“We know that children can be vectors for spreading COVID to other individuals,” Wen explained. “This is something that very much affects people in their families as well as in the surrounding community — being able to contain or to prevent children from further spreading to others."
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