Biden health secretary joins Waukegan panel advocating for youth vaccination


WAUKEGAN, Ill.  — Millions of Americans as young as 5-years-old can now roll up their sleeves and get a COVID-19 vaccination. With the holidays around the corner, public officials are urging families with eligible kids to get them vaccinated against the virus.

On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, a top health official with President Joe Biden’s administration, traveled to the Chicago suburbs to spread the word.

“Twenty-eight million kids can go through those doors and say, ‘I’ll be able to hug my grandparents for Thanksgiving. ‘I’ll be able to share stories and feel more comfortable,'” Becerra said.

Tuesday at Jack Benny Middle School in Waukegan, two 6th graders were among the many who received their shots. The Biden administration has shipped 15 million pediatric doses across the country with the goal of vaccinating all 28 million children eligible for the vaccine.  

Rep. Brad Schneider (IL-10) says the vaccine has been “life-changing.”

“I’m vaccinated. My wife is vaccinated,” Schneider said. “One of the great joys is when my parents, who were both in their 80s, were able to get vaccinated.”

The effort to vaccinate young children is different than the campaign to get shots into the arms of adults. Instead of mass vaccination sites, officials sent the COVID vaccines to doctor’s offices, children’s hospitals, pharmacies, health centers and schools.

“While our children aren’t dying from COVID at the rates that our grandparents were, we still lost kids,” Becerra said. “We have kids who’ve gone to the hospital.”

Health officials say there are still many people who need convincing as not all parents support the COVID vaccine for children.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted last month found 30% of parents with kids age 5-11 will oppose their vaccination against the coronavirus.

Laura Thebarge disagrees, saying that she is relieved children are now eligible for the dose.

“Our children have suffered and I have watched it,” Thebarge said. “The pediatric vaccine for our 5-11, which is right where my kids sit, 6, 9 and 10. This is a good day.”

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