The U.S. has joined Chile, Cuba and six other countries as some of the only nations in the world vaccinating children under age 12 against COVID-19.
Last week, Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for American kids between ages five and 11.
Parents have been split 50/50 over vaccinating children because kids rarely get severely ill and make up less than 0.1 percent of all Covid deaths.
Because of it controversial nature, very few nations have made the move yet to vaccinate youngsters with only eight other countries doing so.
In El Salvador, Chile, Ecuador and Indonesia, children aged six and older have begun receiving their first shots.
In Argentina, Bahrain, China and the United Arab Emirates, vaccines have been authorized for kids under age three.
Meanwhile, in Cuba, kids as young as age two are receiving the jabs.
First Lady Jill Biden visited a McLean, Virginia elementary school Monday and urged parents to vaccinate their kids against COVID-19 as the U.S. joins eight other countries vaccinating kids under age 12
Argentina, Bahrain, China and the United Arab Emirates have begun jabbing kids aged three and older while Cubs is vaccinating kids as young as age two. Pictured: Pedro Montano holds his daughter Roxana Montano, 3, while she is vaccinated against COVID-19 in Havana, Cuba, August 2021
El Salvador, Chile, Ecuador and Indonesia are vaccinating kids aged six and older. Pictured: A health worker administers the first dose of a Covid vaccine for children aged 6 to 11 at Alicante del Rosal school in Santiago, Chile, October 2021
‘Please make the decision to protect your children with the same vaccine that has already saved millions of lives, because nothing is more important than our children’s health,’ the first lady said, though was careful to label the decision a ‘choice.’
The venue was significant – as Franklin Sherman Elementary School was the first school in the nation to host a polio vaccine clinic on April 26, 1954, with more than 100 second graders getting their shots.
On Monday, 260 kids ages five through 11 were given their first Pfizer dose.
FLOTUS, accompanied by Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, first toured the pediatric COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the school, before delivering a speech in the cafeteria.
She walked around handing out stickers to the newly vaccinated kids.
‘Did you all get your stickers? Did they get their stickers?’ she asked.
‘He’s our surgeon general. So he knows all the facts and figures and all the stuff about vaccines. That’s why I brought him along with me,’ she told a group, introducing Murthy.
Biden told a group of kids that Murthy has a five-year-old son.
‘I’m five,’ piped up one of the youngsters. ‘I’m six,’ offered another.
‘We’re not giving out our ages,’ the 70-year-old first lady joked, cuing laughter from the parents.
Biden (left) looks at a letter written to herby a young girl Shayla that was read to her by another student Vasav Ramineni (right)
Biden (left) and Murthy (right) toured a pediatric COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Monday before the first lady delivered remarks
‘Thank you for what you did today. You’re protecting your families and your friends, so thank you, we really appreciate you,’ Biden told the kids.
Moving to another part of the clinic, she was presented with a letter from a girl named Shayla who was too shy to read it aloud, with another student, a boy named Vasav, jumping in.
The young girl had promised to encourage other kids to get their shots.
‘Kids will listen to me because I’m a kid,’ the letter said.
Biden was also presented with an origami box by a boy named Dennis.
‘Be healthy, be safe – thank you moms and dads,’ the first lady told the crowd before moving on to the cafeteria.
There, she asked the kids to join her up at the podium and help her deliver her speech.
Biden puts a vaccination sticker on a little girl at the Franklin Sherman Elementary School vaccination clinic
Dennis Larson (right), 9, presented Biden (left) with an origami box during her visit to a pediatric COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia on Monday
Franklin Sherman Elementary School was the first school in the nation to host a polio vaccine clinic on April 26, 1954. Pictured: A nurse prepares children for a shot of the polio vaccine, date unknown
She thanked them for getting their COVID-19 shots today.
‘I don’t like needles myself,’ she admitted.
In her remarks, FLOTUS recalled how every parent feels when bringing home a newborn.
‘There’s a moment that we all go through – when you look at that baby, with eyes like saucers and the tiniest fingers, and you feel an overwhelming sense of love, deep in your bones – and absolute terror,’ she said. ‘Because you know that this fragile life is depending on you.’
She talked about the things parents do to keep their children safe.
‘We wrestle them into car seats no matter how hard they complain,’ she said. ‘We make them eat their vegetables. And we stuff them into winter coats and scarves until they can barely walk.’
Biden said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents did everything they could to protect their kids.
‘You figured out how to support their virtual learning, while working your own job. You found ways to create online playdates and virtual parties. You chose to get yourself vaccinated,’ she said.
‘And even though there were times when you probably felt like no matter what you did it wasn’t enough, I want you to know: You carried your family though this. You’re doing an amazing job,’ she continued.
Biden said she and the president were aware how difficult it was to be a parent during the pandemic.
‘Joe and our team have been working every day to give you what you need to keep your family safe in this pandemic. And parents, I’m so excited that, now, you have a new way to do just that: a vaccine for children, 5 and up,’ she said.
‘Not just another way to protect your kids against COVID-19, but as Dr. Murthy said, it’s the best way,’ she added.
Biden again acknowledged that ‘parenting and worrying’ go hand-in-hand.
‘So, I can’t promise you that the dangers of the world will become any less frightening. Just wait until your kids start driving,’ she said to laughs. ‘But with this vaccine, we can take away at least one of your worries, a big one.’
‘And from the day you held your sweet, fragile little baby, you have made the choice again and again to keep your children safe. Giving your child that COVID-19 vaccine is your choice too,’ she said, encouraging parents to choose to vaccinate their kids.
‘It’s up to us to keep them safe – and with this vaccine, we can,’ the first lady said.
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use in five to 11-year-olds last week.
Kid are being given 10 microgram doses – one-third of the size given to adolescents and adults – three weeks apart.
Doses started being doled out immediately, though have been met by some resistance since the virus poses a low risk to that age group, accounting for just 0.1 percent of Covid deaths in the U.S.
Because of this low risk of severe illness, polls have shown that many parents are not inclined to vaccinate their children.
New survey data published last week from the Kaiser Family Foundation found 27 percent of parents with kids aged five to 11 say that their children will get vaccinated as soon as it’s available.
Meanwhile, 33 percent say they will ‘wait and see’ how the vaccine is working before deciding whether or not to immunize their kids.
Another five percent of parents say they will only get their children vaccinated if it is required by their schools and 30 percent say they will not get their kids vaccinated at all