TUESDAY, Nov. 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- As new government data showed that 360,000 young kids have now gotten their first shot, the Biden administration on Monday asked schools to help by hosting vaccination clinics and providing information to parents on the benefit of the shots.
On Monday, First Lady Jill Biden kicked off a campaign to promote COVID vaccinations for kids as she and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy visited Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Va. The school was the first to administer the polio vaccine in 1954, the Associated Press reported.
"The vaccine is the best way to protect your children against COVID-19," Jill Biden told parents. "It's been thoroughly reviewed and rigorously tested. It's safe. It's free. And it's available for every child in this country, five and up."
"Parenthood and worrying go hand-in-hand — it's just what we do," Biden told parents. "So, I can't promise you that the dangers of the world will become any less frightening. Just wait until your kids start driving! But with this vaccine, we can take away at least one of those worries. A big one."
She plans to visit pediatric vaccination clinics to deliver the same message in the coming weeks, the AP reported.
At the same time, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona are sending a letter to school districts, calling on them to organize vaccine clinics for their newly eligible students, the AP reported. The officials are also reminding school districts that they can tap into billions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief money to support pediatric vaccination efforts.
Emergency use of Pfizer's pediatric vaccine in 5-to-11-year-olds was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Oct. 29, and the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backed its use on Nov. 2.
The Biden administration has said it's secured enough doses for every U.S. child ages 5-11, but there have been reports of shortages in some areas, the Washington Post reported.
There are plans to boost distribution this week in pediatricians' offices, pharmacies and school clinics, according to the Post.
The White House is also teaming up with the American Academy of Pediatrics to have local physicians provide schools with science-based information about the shots, the Associated Press reported.
About 28 million U.S. children ages 5-11 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, the AP reported.
Experts have said it is unlikely that most schools will mandate coronavirus vaccines for their students while the shots remain under emergency use authorization. That could change once the pediatric vaccine gains full regulatory approval, joining the ranks of other well-known vaccines like measles that states already require students to get to attend classes.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on kids and COVID vaccines.