White House readying campaign for parents on children COVID-19 vaccines

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The White House is preparing a national education campaign designed to provide parents with accurate and science-based information on COVID-19 vaccines for children as federal health agencies review data on shots for 5- to 11-year-olds.

The campaign, announced by Surgeon General Vivek Murthy during a Wednesday briefing, intends to ensure parents have access to reliable information from trusted sources about the vaccines and dispel disinformation on the shots.

“We need everyone on board for the work ahead of us, because every parent should have the information and tools that they need to help keep their kids safe and to help protect the kids under five who can’t get vaccinated yet,” Murthy said.

Through the educational program, the administration will partner with schools to send letters home to families and provide support for doctors and health clinics to administer vaccines and address any concerns. Officials will also work with faith leaders, including through supplying toolkits for congregations and developing forums for parents to ask questions to health experts, Murthy said.

Head Start, the National Parent Teacher Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association will also join the education effort, the surgeon general said.

The White House additionally plans to form a parents leadership core consisting of medical experts, parents and others who “will amplify accurate information online and in media appearances.”

“With all of this, we will make sure that we are reaching parents in their language and through the people they trust,” he said.

The Biden administration announced the educational effort alongside its plans to distribute and administer COVID-19 shots to millions of 5- to 11-year-olds across the country. But officials emphasized that the strategy is pending Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorization of the vaccine for the younger age group.

The plans come ahead of an FDA advisory panel meeting scheduled for next week to discuss Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine data among children ages 5 to 11. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has already been authorized for those ages 12 and older. CDC data shows the 12 to 17 age group has the lowest vaccination rates, followed closely by the 18 to 24 age group.

The United States’ vaccination rollout has been plagued by disinformation online about the vaccines’ effectiveness and safety, and about 65 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated months after the shots became widely available.

Updated at 11:04 a.m.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 FDA Vaccines Vivek Murthy

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