News →

Jill Biden urges parents to vaccinate their young children during Richmond visit

Jill Biden, wearing a mask, speaks with a child.
First Lady Jill Biden speaks with a child at a Richmond vaccination event on Friday. Following CDC approval for COVID-19 vaccines for children younger than five, Biden urged parents to get their children vaccinated. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

First Lady Jill Biden visited the Richmond area on Friday and encouraged parents to vaccinate their young children against COVID-19.

“You've protected your baby and carried your families through this. And now, the relief is finally here, a vaccine for our youngest children,” Biden said. “It's been thoroughly reviewed and rigorously tested. It's safe and it's effective. And it's free.”

The pediatric Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, for children between six months and five years of age, were approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a few weeks ago.

Since then, The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts’ vaccination clinic, where the First Lady visited on Friday, has vaccinated about 220 children younger than the age of five, according to communications director Cat Long. She said statewide, about 11,000 children younger than five have received a dose of the vaccine.

Richmond and Henrico County currently have a high risk of community transmission, according to the CDC, which recommends people in high-risk areas wear a mask indoors in public and on public transportation.

Cases of the virus have been rising in the region since last week, according to data analyzed by The New York Times, which reported 114 new cases in Richmond on June 30.

Stuart Spangler was waiting at the clinic with his two-year-old daughter Rosalee to get the pediatric vaccine when the first lady arrived. He said his family has been looking forward to this day for a long time.

“We have been eager to get her vaccinated like her mother and I are,” Spangler said. “Vaccines in general have completely changed our world for the better. So, no hesitation on either of our parts to get her vaccinated.”

To accommodate the unique needs of young children, the clinic has begun administering pediatric vaccines in private rooms, where families can comfortably wait together. Since the pediatric vaccines were approved, they’ve been vaccinating about 40 children a day, the district's maximum. And according to Senior Public Health Nurse Nicole McCurrach, they’ve been doing their best to make it fun for their very young clients.

“We have lots of things. We've got stickers, we've got lollipops, sweethearts, graham crackers,” McCurrach said. “Some of our vaccinators bring in things to help with distraction, like pinwheels.”

Vaccine appointments for children can be made by visiting vaccines.gov.

“This vaccine is your choice. So, make the decision to protect your children with the same vaccine that has already saved millions of lives. Because nothing, nothing is more important than our children's health,” Biden said.