First lady Jill Biden made an appearance Wednesday at Children’s National THEARC in southeast D.C. to encourage more people to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus.
Accompanied by the Washington Mystics’ Alysha Clark, the Washington Wizards’ Thomas Bryant and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the first lady spoke about the importance of vaccination and the dangers of misinformation during the ongoing pandemic.
“So here’s what I want you to remember and share with other parents,” Biden said. “The vaccine protects your children against COVID-19. It’s been thoroughly reviewed and rigorously tested. It’s safe. It’s free, and it’s available for every single child in this country 5 [years old] and up.
“Parenthood and worrying go hand in hand, don’t they, and it’s just what parents do,” she added. “We worry constantly about our kids, 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.”
Murthy also expressed confidence in the vaccine’s effectiveness in protecting children from symptomatic cases of COVID-19, the potentially deadly respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
“There’s a narrative out there, that kids aren’t affected by COVID-19 … and I want to tell you that that’s not true,” he said. “Because while our kids are less at risk for COVID-19 for bad outcomes than older adults, we have had hundreds of children who have lost their life. … During this pandemic, we’ve had thousands of children who have been hospitalized because of COVID.”
Vaccinations for children between 5 and 11 years old began in earnest nationwide after the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency-use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for that age group on Oct. 29 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a formal recommendation four days later.
Clark lauded the children and parents in attendance for proactively seeking vaccinations in the early stages of eligibility for that age group.
“I know over the last year and a half, there’s been a lot of misinformation about the vaccine, a lot of anger, and obviously just a bunch of different emotions around vaccines and what that means for us as a nation, what that means for us individually and collectively as families,” Clark said. “I just want to applaud each and every one of you for taking the step today to trust the science and medical professionals who have been working around the clock to extensively research and find a way for us to get on the other side of this pandemic.”