(CNN)President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited a Washington, DC, vaccination clinic on Tuesday where children under the age of 5 are being immunized against Covid-19 — part of the first cohort of young kids to be immunized against the virus following the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director’s sign-off.
Covid-19 vaccinations for children younger than 5 began Tuesday across the United States, with some 17 million kids in the under 5 age range becoming eligible for vaccines.
“Relief, isn’t it? Being able to do it?” the President asked the parents when he entered the room at the DC Health Covid-19 Center. “We’re the only country in the world doing this right now.”
“This is a great place for you all,” he told one young girl waiting for her vaccine at the clinic. “We’re going to beat this thing. You’ll be able to go anywhere you want.”
Later Tuesday afternoon, Biden will deliver remarks from the White House to discuss the newly authorized vaccines for children under 5 and talk about “the historic progress the country has made in fighting Covid-19 with safe, effective vaccines available to virtually all Americans,” according to the White House.
The US Food and Drug Administration last week expanded the emergency use authorizations for Moderna’s vaccine to include children 6 months through 17 years and Pfizer/BioNTech’s for children 6 months through 4 years. And on Saturday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on Covid-19 vaccinations for children under 5, clearing the way for vaccinations to be administered in that age group.
Earlier this month, the White House outlined its plans for making Covid-19 vaccines available for the youngest Americans following the OK from federal regulators. The administration made available 10 million vaccines doses for pre-order by “states, Tribes, territories, community health centers, federal pharmacy partners, and others,” according to the White House.
The administration estimated 85% of children under the age of 5 live within five miles of a potential vaccination site while also noting many parents looking for vaccines for their young children would obtain them through pediatricians or primary care providers.
Walensky said Tuesday on CNN’s “Newsroom” that the agency has a lot of work underway to get parents to trust that the Covid-19 vaccines are safe for their kids.
“We have much work underway in regard to that,” Walensky said, when asked about what she’s learned from polling showing there has been a decline in trust in the CDC, especially for parents who are going to vaccinate their kids. “What I would say to parents is there are numerous voices out there, if you go to the American Academy of Pediatrics, other American Medical Association, many other independent organizations are encouraging vaccination for those six months and above now that we have greater than six months.”
CNN’s Nikki Carvajal, Arlette Saenz, Naomi Thomas and Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.