First lady Jill Biden and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy kicked off their campaign to encourage child coronavirus vaccinations Monday by visiting the first school to inoculate children against polio in McLean, Virginia.
The administration is pushing to get children ages 5-11 vaccinated. The Associated Press states that 28 million children are eligible for the shots now that the Pfizer vaccine was approved.
In 1954, Dr. Richard Mulvaney administered the first polio vaccine to 114 second graders at McLean’s Franklin Sherman Elementary.
According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 200 polio infections lead to “irreversible paralysis,” and five to ten percent of those paralyzed will die. While the United States has been polio-free since 1979, CDC data shows that from “1951-1954, an average of 16,316 paralytic polio cases and 1,879 deaths from polio were reported each year,” most of them children.
The CDC also reports that from January 1, 2020, to October 16, 2021, 94 children ages 5 to 11 died from the coronavirus, and 8,300 were hospitalized due to coronavirus, accounting for 1.7 percent of all deaths for children in that age group. From October 2020 to October 2021, the same number of children ages 5-11 died from the coronavirus as by suicide in 2019 – 66. Notably, youth suicide attempts skyrocketed during the pandemic, and data for 2021 has yet to be released.
While polio is usually contracted by children under 5, the average age of someone who died from the coronavirus is 72.8 years old, according to the University of Minnesota.
Compared to the flu, an estimated 72 kids ages 5-11 died from influenza in the United States during the 2019-2020 season. In all child age groups, 199-434 succumbed to the flu, yet the CDC labels pediatric deaths from flu as “relatively rare.”
Biden’s visit comes as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra wrote a letter Monday asking schools to set up coronavirus vaccination clinics for children.
Breitbart News reported Monday that in support of children’s vaccinations, messages encouraging the jab were posted on Sesame Street characters’ Twitter accounts. President Joe Biden joined in, responding to Big Bird’s account, “Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep your whole neighborhood safe.”
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