President Joe Biden on Wednesday urged people to get their kids vaccinated, one day after the Pfizer vaccine was approved for children ages 5 to 11.
“For parents all over this country, this is a day of relief and celebration,” the president said from the White House. “You can now protect [your children] from this horrible virus.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11. Previously, only kids over the age of 12 were eligible for the vaccine.
Biden described the availability of vaccines to anyone over the age of 5 as a “giant step forward to further accelerate our path out of this pandemic.”
“Parents of children 5 and older, please get them vaccinated,” Biden urged, noting that children make up about 25% of reported COVID-19 cases across the country. “To protect themselves, to protect others and to stop the spread, to help us beat this pandemic.”
Around 28 million children are newly eligible to get vaccinated, according to Biden. His administration began shipping out millions of doses to pediatricians, pharmacies and children’s hospitals last week, and he said there should be enough supply by next week that all kids can get vaccinated. Thousands of schools are planning to host vaccination clinics as well.
Vaccines will allow children to more safely gather in schools and at other activities. The pandemic has shown both parents and students “how important” it is for schools to stay open, Biden said.
In authorizing the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine in kids 5 to 11 last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that the vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing the virus in that age group. A study to assess the vaccine’s safety followed about 3,100 vaccinated kids ages 5 to 11, and found that none had serious side effects.
Just 58% of people in the U.S. are currently fully vaccinated. Cases and deaths have dropped significantly since a wave in September, but there are still over 73,000 reported cases per day across the country, and more than 1,200 people are dying daily from the virus.
“We have to keep going. The pandemic is not yet behind us. Please do your part,” Biden said. “Folks who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet: Please get vaccinated.”