The Biden government on Thursday announced efforts to ramp up Covid vaccinations for children 12 and older, as well as young adults returning to school this fall.
The plan sees more than 50 million students returning to K-12 school and 20 million returning to college within the next six weeks. It also comes amid a surge in cases of the highly communicable Delta-Covid variant, particularly in unvaccinated communities in the United States
As of last week, only 30% of 12-17 year olds were fully vaccinated, which is why leading US doctors worried that the Delta variant could spread to classrooms across the country if thousands of schools reopen.
President Joe Biden’s plan builds on a broader Return to School Roadmap released earlier this week designed to help students, schools and educators safely return to face-to-face learning in the face of these Delta Concerns.
“For young people, getting vaccinated right away is the best way back to the things they love – like exercising, graduating from college, and spending time with friends and loved ones,” a White House statement said.
More than a dozen sports and medical organizations, including the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics, issued a statement urging all medical providers to inquire about Covid vaccination status during exercise and student status Informing athletes of where to get vaccinations, according to schedule.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) will also be releasing revised forms for doctors, parents, and students that contain information about Covid vaccinations. The organization estimates that around 60 to 70% of children in the United States participate in organized sports, making the fall physical exams a prime opportunity to promote youth vaccination.
“Vaccination prevents common diseases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 and will help keep students in the classroom, athletes in play and sports teams on the field while protecting our communities,” AAP said in the joint statement with eleven others Organizations.
As part of the plan, the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) will also invite 22,000 local organizations to hold community talks with parents about vaccinating their children.
The PTA will work with AAP to bring local pediatricians to these interviews, as planned.
The Biden administration will also provide schools and colleges with resources to run pop-up vaccine clinics on campus. Last week, President Joe Biden directed school districts in the US to run at least one pop-up clinic in the coming weeks, in collaboration with pharmacies on the federal pharmacy program.
The government will also run a campaign to push youth vaccinations from August 7-15, the plan added. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will travel to Topeka, Kansas to attend a back-to-school vaccine clinic.
Emhoff and the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, will also host a virtual discussion with youth leaders about youth vaccine access, according to the plan.
On Monday, the U.S. hit Biden’s May target of providing 70% of U.S. adults with at least one vaccination, about a month behind the original July target.
Overall, the US reported an average of about 677,000 daily vaccinations last week (as of August 4), up 11% from a week.
While Covid vaccinations are still limited for children under the age of 12, the FDA approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 in May.
Moderna’s vaccine will also be approved for children aged 12 and over. Moderna also plans to expand the scope of its clinical trials for its vaccine to children ages 5-11.