First lady Jill Biden and US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy will make a push for boosting the number of Covid-19 vaccination sites for children Monday as they kick off a nationwide administration effort to encourage vaccines for the nation’s youngest and newly eligible candidates.
“Over the following weeks the First Lady will visit pediatric Covid-19 vaccination clinics across the country, including at schools, children’s hospitals, and other community sites, and will encourage more sites to offer vaccines for children in their community and protect them from Covid-19,” a White House official said.
Along with Biden’s and Murthy’s efforts, US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona sent a letter Monday to school superintendents and elementary school principals.
“We urge you to do all you can to help parents and families learn about the vaccine and get access to it,” the secretaries wrote in the letter, encouraging the school leaders to host a Covid-19 clinic at their schools, distribute information to families with children 5 to 11 years old and host conversations with school communities in partnership with medical professionals.
The Biden administration, the official said, “is also encouraging districts across the country to set up school-located vaccine clinics by using their American Rescue Plan funds to help operationalize these clinics, and by using providers through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program to administer vaccines.”
The push to increase vaccination sites comes as approximately 20,000 sites are already operational for children 5 to 11 years old seeking vaccines.
“Altogether, starting next week, parents will have approximately 20,000 trusted and convenient locations to get their kids vaccinated, with more and more sites coming online in the weeks ahead,” White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters last Wednesday, adding, “As we hit full strength next week, finding a site nearby and scheduling an appointment will become easier and easier.”
A White House official said the first lady and surgeon general’s push is not a reflection of there not being enough vaccine sites for children, but rather, an effort to expand the number of entry points available to families. School-based vaccine clinics, the official said, have historically worked well, so they are looking to encourage states and localities to put those spaces to work. Funding from the Covid relief package passed earlier this year can support those efforts.
Biden and Murthy are visiting Franklin Sherman Elementary School on Monday in nearby McLean, Virginia, which was the first school to administer the polio vaccine in 1954. Nearly 70 years later, the first lady and surgeon general will mark the first White House visit to a pediatric Covid-19 vaccination clinic, meeting with students and local officials and delivering remarks.
It comes nearly one week after US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed a recommendation to vaccinate children ages 5-11 against Covid-19 with Pfizer’s two-dose course.
The visit will be the first of a tour by the first lady to “pediatric Covid-19 vaccination clinics across the country, including at schools, children’s hospitals, and other community sites” across the country, per the White House.
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