Children ages 5 to 11 receive the Covid-19 vaccine at Children's National Hospital, in Washington, DC.
Dr. Gupta advises on Covid-19 vaccines and holidays
03:53 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

First lady Jill Biden plans to embark on a “nationwide effort” to encourage Covid-19 vaccinations for children 5 to 11 years old next week, her office announced Friday.

On Monday, her office said in a statement, Biden “will kick off a nationwide effort urging parents and guardians to vaccinate kids ages 5-11. The First Lady will visit 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 first lady, who is also a community college professor, has previously traveled the country to encourage vaccinations and has also visited schools, highlighting the enormous deficit Covid-19 has caused for many families and teachers and school systems. Biden’s new efforts will target the nation’s youngest, most newly eligible vaccine candidates. Friday’s announcement comes days after US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky endorsed a recommendation to vaccinate children ages 5-11 against Covid-19 with Pfizer’s two-dose course.

President Joe Biden called the news a “major step forward.”

“It will allow parents to end months of anxious worrying about their kids, and reduce the extent to which children spread the virus to others. It is a major step forward for our nation in our fight to defeat the virus,” Biden said in a statement.

“Over the last several weeks, my administration has been working hard to be prepared for this moment: we are ready to act. We have already secured enough vaccine supply for every child in America, and over the past weekend, we began the process of packing and shipping out millions of pediatric vaccine doses. These doses – specially designed for these younger children – have started to arrive at thousands of locations across the country.”

Jill Biden, who is teaching in-person writing classes this semester at Northern Virginia Community College, has often talked about the major challenges of remote learning for both students and educators. And with students back in the classroom, Biden empathized with how a child’s cough could “send parents’ hearts racing” as she visited a Washington, DC, school in September.

“This is hard, but you’re doing your best. And I want you to know that you’re not alone,” she said, expressing her appreciation for parents, teachers and school support staff for their efforts during the past year.

She nodded to the political climate and polarization of school reopening.

“We can’t always know what the future holds, but we do know what we owe our children. We owe them a promise to keep their schools open as safe as possible. We owe them a commitment to follow the science. We owe them unity so we can fight the virus, not each other,” she said.

CNN’s Kate Bennett and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.