Biden administration asking schools, local health providers to hold vaccine events for kids

The Pfizer vaccine for kids has shown to be nearly 91 percent effective at preventing symptoms.
COLLEGEVILLE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The Biden administration is urging superintendents and elementary school principals to host vaccination clinics now that children 5 to 11 are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

Federal and school officials say the hope is that by offering vaccine clinics on campuses where kids are comfortable could help families overcome any reservations.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will start the national effort Monday by visiting a pediatric COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia, the first school to administer the polio vaccine in 1954.

The visit comes just days after federal regulators recommended the COVID-19 vaccine for the age group. The White House says Biden will visit pediatric vaccination clinics across the country over the coming weeks to encourage the shots.

At the same time, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona are sending a letter to school districts across the country calling on them to organize vaccine clinics for their newly eligible students. The officials are reminding school districts that they can tap into billions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief money, through the American Rescue Plan, to support pediatric vaccination efforts, including providing the space and organizing drives.

The Biden administration is providing local school districts with tools to help schools partner with pharmacies to administer shots. And it's asking schools to share information on the benefits of vaccines and details about the vaccination process with parents, in an effort to combat disinformation surrounding the shots.

The White House is encouraging schools to host community conversations and share fact sheets on the vaccines and is working with the American Academy of Pediatrics to partner local physicians with schools aiming to share science-based information about the shots.

Schools officials will not be the ones handling the COVID-19 vaccine or giving the shots to students.

They will partner with local vaccine providers, such as the Skippack Pharmacy in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, which has received 5,000 shots of the Pfizer vaccine for children.

"I thought it was going to be really hard, just like it was when it was approved for adults, so it was amazingly simple; surprisingly simple," said parent Kelleigh Parker.

Parents who came to get their kids vaccinated at the North Penn High School in Lansdale said they didn't have any reservations.

"I'm a pediatrician, so I've done a lot of research in the area and tried to keep on top of the latest data and I very strongly support all the resources behind this vaccine," said parent Dr. Sarah Lo, a physician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
About 28 million kids ages 5 to 11 are newly eligible for shots now that the Pfizer vaccine is approved for the age group. The White House says the federal government has procured enough of the two-dose vaccine for all of them.

A Pfizer study of 2,268 children found the vaccine was almost 91% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections. The Food and Drug Administration studied the shots in 3,100 vaccinated kids in concluding the shots are safe.

RELATED: Q&A: What to know about COVID-19 vaccines for kids aged 5-11

While kids are less likely than adults to develop severe COVID-19, with the delta variant they get infected and transmit "just as readily as adults do," Dr. Anthony Fauci, government's top infectious diseases expert, said at a recent White House briefing.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, at least 94 children ages 5 to 11 have died from COVID-19, more than 8,300 have been hospitalized and more than 5,000 have developed a serious inflammatory condition linked to the virus.

Events where shots will be provided are expected to pick up in New Jersey and Philadelphia. Cooper University Health Care and CHOP are among the health systems working to make the pediatric vaccine available.

All this, as some school drives are facing pushback and protests in other states, while the U.S. Department of Education urges schools to host more town halls where doctors can answer questions.

The Skippack Pharmacy will be hosting a COVID-19 vaccination event for kids 5 to 11 at the Perkiomen Valley High School in Collegeville on Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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