HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visited the greater Richmond area on Friday and spoke with families at one of Henrico County’s pediatric vaccination clinics, which had children getting their first COVID-19 shots.

According to White House communications, the East Clinic vaccination site is one out of four locations operating in Henrico County offering both walk-up vaccinations and appointments. The First Lady’s visit highlighted the recent authorization and recommendation of COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 5.

“From the day your sweet, fragile, little baby was born, you have made the choice again and again to keep your child safe,” First Lady Biden said. “This vaccine is your choice, too. So make the decision to protect your children with the same vaccine that has already saved millions of lives.”

First Lady Jill Biden speaks to parents at the East Clinic vaccination site in Henrico. Credit: Courtesy of White House Camera Pool.

Biden was joined by White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha, who noted that, while many children do not have as severe reactions to the virus as adults, there have still been tens of thousands who were sent to hospitals due to COVID-19 complications, despite having no underlying conditions.

“This fragile, little life is depending on you,” the First Lady said, describing parenthood. “From that moment on, you see dangers that you never even noticed before. So we buy baby gates, and we cover our electrical outlets. We wrestle them into car seats, no matter how much they complain. We make them eat their vegetables, and slather them in sunscreen, while they fight back with the strength of a linebacker.”

COVID-19 vaccines for the youngest Virginians at the East Clinic vaccination site in Henrico. Credit: Courtesy of White House Camera Pool.

The clinic in Henrico County is currently offering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years, and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 4 years.

Parents, like Julia Crowder, said the wait for immunizations for this age group has been a long time coming.

“I’m a little nervous about their initial reaction to what’s about to happen. But we’re really excited,” she said. “I feel like they’ve been forgotten about. This age range has kind of been on the back burner, I feel like, for two years, and so I feel like we’re finally getting to a point where we are doing what we can to protect them.”

Crowder brought two of her children, 3-year-old Henry and 4-year-old Joseph, to receive their first COVID-19 vaccines on Friday. Henry was also celebrating his birthday, and was treated to a “Happy Birthday” song by the First Lady, Congressman Don McEachin, Mayor Levar Stoney, Dr. Jha and Dr. Melissa Viray, among others, before getting his shot.

Cathy Marcello and Kyle Wendling also brought their 9-month-old son, Patrick, to be vaccinated at the clinic. Marcello said that, working in the medical field, she was one of the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when they initially came out, and has been waiting for her infant son to have his chance since he was born during the pandemic.

On June 17, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) authorized emergency use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus to include use in children as young as 6 months of age. The agency stated that the known and potential benefits of these vaccines outweighed the known and potential risks in the pediatric populations authorized to receive each vaccine.

The Moderna shot is administered as a primary series of two doses, one month apart, to individuals 6 months through 17 years of age. The vaccine is also authorized to provide a third primary series dose at least one month following the second dose for individuals in this age group who are determined to be immunocompromised. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is administered as a primary series of three doses in which the initial two doses are administered three weeks apart, followed by a third dose administered at least eight weeks after the second dose in individuals 6 months through 4 years of age.