President Biden on Tuesday marked what White House officials have described as the unofficial start of the US vaccination campaign for children under the age of 5, who visited a Washington, DC site to meet with families and children while some shots were administered .
“Finally some peace of mind,” Mr. Biden said in remarks celebrating the availability of gunfire at the White House after the event, calling it a “monumental step forward” in the nation’s pandemic response.
Federal health officials, anxious to show off the United States’ progress in stopping deadly cases of the coronavirus, have been working for weeks to prepare parents and doctors to vaccinate the youngest children, a population of around 20 million who have waited 18 months has adults came first for the shots in question.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccines for young children late last week after voting by independent expert panels.
Mr. Biden said he met with around 17 families at the vaccination center in Washington with children who had already had or were about to have an injection. A federal website, vaccines.gov, was updated Tuesday to show locations where vaccines could be found, he said.
Arsema Desta, a registered nurse in Washington who helps with local pediatric immunization efforts, appeared with the president at the White House and said immunizations are important for young children “because they allow multigenerational households to make sure everyone in the household is vaccinated.” “.
The Biden administration has already made at least 10 million doses available to states and health care providers and expects to rely heavily on pediatricians and primary care physicians for delivery, as is common with pediatric immunization campaigns. Pharmacies and community health centers will also vaccinate the little ones, among other things.
But by a deadline last week, only 2.5 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine had been ordered, about half of what the federal government had offered, as well as about 1.3 million doses of Moderna, about a quarter of what offer.
dr Deborah M. Greenhouse, a pediatrician in Columbia, SC, said her practice was still awaiting the arrival of about 1,000 doses as of Tuesday afternoon. She said parents she’s met so far fall into three categories: those who smash down doors to get the vaccine; those who are interested but need advice; and families completely resistant.
She said lower acceptance among 5- to 11-year-olds is a “real problem” that she and her colleagues have but hoped to overcome with younger children. Only about 37 percent of children in the age group received at least one dose.
Pediatricians are especially important for families to make choices, she said.
“Once it rolls out and you have a lot of the early adopter groups, once their kids have gotten the vaccine and there’s more data and bigger numbers, that’s going to attract families waiting for a decision,” she said.
Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Mr. Biden again warned of a lack of funding for the federal pandemic response, which he said could hamper future attempts to quell potential surges. Federal health officials have been begging lawmakers for months to allocate more money for vaccines and treatments. But negotiations have stalled, even turning publicly hostile at a Senate hearing last week.
Mr. Biden also appeared to smack Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Health care providers in the state were allowed to delay ordering shots for young children last week after Florida became the only state to decline the pre-order, White House officials said. State officials denied they reversed their position and said they maintained a policy to allow orders after FDA approval.
“Let’s be clear: Elected officials shouldn’t get in the way and parents who want their children to be vaccinated and who want to protect them and those around them shouldn’t get in the way,” Mr. Biden said. “This is no time for politics. It’s about parents being able to do whatever they can to protect their children.”