First lady Jill Biden kicks off COVID-19 vaccine for kids campaign at historic Virginia school
The administration is asking schools to set up vaccination sites.
First lady Jill Biden took the administration's push for child COVID-19 vaccinations on the road to Northern Virginia on Monday by visiting a school that is of historic importance in vaccinations in the U.S.
Biden, along with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, visited Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
Franklin Sherman Elementary School is where the first polio vaccine was administered to children in 1954, according to the White House.
The visit is a step in the Biden administration's push for youngsters to get the jab after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on the vaccine for children ages 5-11, making more than 28 million American kids eligible for the vaccine.
Biden was introduced by a sixth-grade student, Everett Munson, who talked about what it meant for him to be vaccinated.
"I'm excited to be vaccinated because now I'll be able to visit my cousins and grandfather," Munson said. "I'm looking forward to going places without worrying that I could get COVID and give it to my family, friends or teachers."
Munson also pitched an idea inspired by the school's history.
"And maybe we should even take an idea from the polio vaccine at Franklin Sherman: Everyone should get ice cream after their shots," Munson said.
Biden said in her remarks that the vaccine is another way parents can protect their children.
"The vaccine is the best way to protect your children against COVID-19. It’s been thoroughly reviewed and rigorously tested, it’s safe, it’s free, and it’s available for every child in this country, 5 and up," Biden said.
"From the day you held your sweet, fragile, little baby, you have made the choice, again and again, to keep your child safe," Biden said. "Giving your child the COVID-19 vaccine is your choice too. So, make the decision to protect your children with the same vaccine that has already saved millions of lives."
Murthy also stressed the importance of children getting vaccinated, noting that risks of the virus include an inflammatory syndrome in children.
In addition to visiting schools, the administration sent letters to superintendents and elementary school principals across the country on Monday, urging the officials to set up vaccination clinics in their schools.
"Schools play a vital role in providing access to and trusted information on the vaccine," Health Secretary Xavier Becerra and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote in the letter.
The schools themselves would not administer the vaccines, they would partner with a local vaccine provider, like a community health clinic or pharmacy, to give the shots to students. The schools would have access to federal cash from the American Rescue Plan to help with costs for providing spaces for vaccines and organizing the vaccine appointments.
The letter also asked schools to distribute information fact sheets, social media and emails to families in the schools. Officials said another way schools can help is by fostering community dialogue with existing organizations, like Parent-Teacher Associations.
"Parents rely on their children’s teachers, principals, school nurses, and other school personnel to help keep their students safe and healthy every school year," Becerra and Cardona wrote in the letter. "The communications you issue – in languages accessible to your parents – will be critical in helping families learn more about the vaccine."
Officials encouraged schools by pointing out that increased vaccinations could mean fewer cancellations of class and activities given outbreaks.
"Vaccination is the best tool we have to keep our students safe from COVID-19, maintain in-person learning, and prevent the closure of schools and cancellation of valued extracurricular activities," Becerra and Cardona wrote in the letter.
ABC News' Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.