Biden praises extended vax eligibility for kids

President Biden on Wednesday praised the availability of vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 and urged parents who may be hesitant to talk to their pediatricians about any concerns.

The vaccines for children represent “a giant step forward to further accelerate our path out of this pandemic,” Biden said. “For parents all over this country, this is a day of relief and celebration.”

While the seven-day average number of infections in the U.S. was steadily falling until about a week ago, cases have started to climb again.

Extending vaccine eligibility to children younger than 12 has been a major goal of public health officials and eagerly awaited by many pediatricians and families. The way to end the pandemic is to vaccinate as many people as possible, and an estimated 28 million children are now eligible.

Biden reiterated that the administration has already purchased enough doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to inoculate all 28 million.

“The bottom line is: We’ve been planning and preparing for months to vaccinate our children. Our program will be ramping up this week, and more doses [will be] shipped out each day so that we have it fully up and running by next week,” Biden said during remarks at the White House.

“We have 20,000 locations around the country. These include places that parents know and trust — their local pharmacies, their pediatricians, family doctors and children’s hospitals,” Biden said. “This vaccine is safe and effective. So get your children vaccinated to protect themselves to protect others and to stop the spread and to help us beat this pandemic.”

The vaccination program will be fully operational next week. However, some pediatricians and family doctors are already beginning to schedule appointments.