WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday encouraged parents with children aged six months and older to get them vaccinated against Covid following last week's approval of vaccines for kids under 5 years old.
"We’ve secured enough doses and we’re launching a comprehensive effort with state, local health departments, pediatricians, family doctors, pharmacies, rural health clinics, community health centers, and other trusted messengers and partners to get the word out to get help them to get shots in arms," Biden said at the White House.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the use of Covid vaccines for the nation's youngest kids on Saturday following the Food and Drug Administration's authorization, a year and a half after adults began receiving the shots.
Parents can begin scheduling appointments for the shots at children's hospitals, pediatricians' offices and pharmacies, Biden and White House officials said.
Among parents with children in the youngest age group, 18% said they plan to get their child vaccinated “right away” once the vaccine is cleared and 38% said they plan to "wait and see," according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released last month.
While young children are generally less likely than adults to experience the most serious aspects of the virus, there have been more than 20,000 hospitalizations and more than 200 deaths among kids between 6 months and 4 years old, according to CDC data. Covid is the fifth most common cause of death in children younger than 5.
Biden on Tuesday also admonished elected officials who aren’t assisting in the effort to help parents get their children vaccinated. Gov. Ron DeSantis last week said Florida wouldn't be participating in the distribution of the vaccine for the youngest kids and wasn't recommending it.
“Let’s be clear, elected officials shouldn’t get in the way and make it more difficult for parents who want their children to be vaccinated and want to protect them and those around them,” Biden said. “This is no time for politics. It’s about parents being able to do everything they can to keep their children safe.”