Texas Children’s Hospital proudly hosted the nation’s First Lady Jill Biden, Ed.D., and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D. on last week in one of the first stops on their nationwide tour encouraging parents to vaccinate 5-11-year-olds against COVID-19.
The first children’s hospital on their tour — which will include schools, churches, and town halls across America — Texas Children’s collaborated with the White House to help educate the community on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, newly approved by the CDC for this younger age group.
U.S. Congressman Al Green and U.S. Congresswomen Lizzie Fletcher and Sheila Jackson Lee joined Drs. Biden and Murthy at Texas Children’s to emphasize their support for the COVID-19 vaccine for children.
“Texas Children’s Hospital was tremendously honored to host First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and esteemed members of the U.S. Congress in our vaccine clinic on Sunday,” said Texas Children’s Hospital President and CEO Mark A. Wallace. "We appreciate Dr. Biden’s and President Biden’s leadership in providing access to the COVID-19 vaccine throughout our nation and world.
“Vaccines are our greatest tool to combat the virus and forge beyond the pandemic,” he continued. “We are grateful to do our part to provide our patients and community access to COVID-19 vaccines, leveraging our equitable allocation model that prioritizes those most at risk.”
Several patient families visiting Texas Children’s vaccine clinic on Sunday were surprised by the First Lady’s visit and enjoyed interacting with her alongside the hospital’s therapy dogs, Pinto and Elsa, and Marvel characters, Superman and Wonder Woman.
Texas Children’s also provided free Houston Rockets tickets to families with scheduled vaccine appointments Sunday afternoon.
During her visit to the nation’s largest children’s hospital, Dr. Biden and the pediatric patients wrote their motivations to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on foam posters, which the children later displayed in front of a colorful balloon wall at a press conference in the Pavilion for Women. The children took the opportunity to ask Dr. Biden why she wanted to get vaccinated, and she responded that she did so for her “friends, students and exercise class.” Likewise, the patients shared that they got vaccinated “to play sports again, to keep their families safe, and to enjoy friends’ birthday parties.”
Jim Versalovic, M.D., Ph.D., co-leader of Texas Children’s COVID-19 Command and Pathologist-in-Chief, escorted Dr. Biden and Dr. Murthy on their tour of the hospital’s vaccine clinic. Sarah Brown, a 12-year-old patient who recently received the COVID-19 vaccine on her birthday, also accompanied the First Lady on her tour.
Julie Boom, M.D. and Jermaine Monroe — co-chairs of Texas Children’s COVID-19 Task Force — and Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D. and Maria Elena Bottazzi, Ph.D. — co-directors of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s and Baylor College of Medicine — also were on hand to welcome the special guests to the hospital Sunday.
“The expansion of the COVID-19 vaccine for the 5-11 age group is a monumental step toward further protecting our community from this deadly virus,” said Dr. Boom upon the final endorsement of the vaccine by the FDA and CDC earlier this month. “The COVID-19 vaccine is the safest and most effective way to protect our families and the community, and I strongly encourage parents to get their children vaccinated.”
To date, Texas Children’s has administered the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 17,000 children aged 12-15. The hospital plans to vaccinate over 38,000 children against COVID-19 by Thanksgiving weekend — which represents more than 5 percent of the greater Houston area children aged 5-11 years old — and it has opened 22,000 additional first-dose appointments to safely vaccinate nearly 10 percent of the area’s 5-11-year-old children by New Year’s Day.
In addition to administering the COVID-19 vaccine at its Texas Medical Center, The Woodlands, and West hospital campuses, Texas Children’s continues its proactive role of bringing the vaccine to the Houston community at special clinics throughout the region. Patients and caregivers seeking to vaccinate their children can schedule a free Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine through the hospital’s COVID-19 Appointments scheduler. Free valet or validated parking is provided for families visiting Texas Children’s three hospital campuses for this vaccine.