White House ramps up push to vaccinate kids 5-11

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The White House is working to get more kids vaccinated now that the Food and Drug Administration has approved vaccinations for children between the ages of 5 and 11. But their campaign is getting some pushback after one Sesame Street character announced he got his shot.

In less than a week, roughly 900,000 kids between the ages of 5 and 11 got their first shots.

“Our goal clearly is to vaccinate as many kids as possible,” said Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 Response Team coordinator. “This is the very beginning of the program, the program is just getting up to full strength.”

Zients says the U.S. currently has enough supply to vaccinate all eligible kids and says they’re working with trusted pediatricians and school-based clinics to get the word out.

“We’re helping states meet parents and kids where they are,” Zients said.

One of those places is Sesame Street, but not everyone is welcoming the push.

The character Big Bird landed in hot water with some conservatives Saturday after he tweeted he got his shot.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted back, accusing Big Bird of pushing “government propaganda.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky tweeted praised to Big Bird. She says the data shows many vaccines are safe for children.

“Children 5 to 11 years old should be vaccinated,” Walensky said. “The CDC currently recommends vaccinating children against hepatitis A …. (and) the virus that causes chicken pox.”

While the White House is rolling out controversial vaccine mandates for adults, there are currently no mandates for kids.

Walensky says since the start of the pandemic roughly 2 million kids 5 to 11 have been infected with COVID-19, leading to 66 deaths between Oct. 3, 2020 and Oct. 2, 2021.

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