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White House official says he’s still optimistic about Covid Aid despite objections from the GOP

President Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator said Thursday he remains optimistic Congress will approve billions of dollars in new emergency aid to fight Covid, even as Republicans on Capitol Hill made it clear the aid package is as good as dead.

“I’m a perpetual optimist,” said the coordinator, Dr. Ashish K. Jha, to reporters during a White House briefing. “I remain convinced that at this point in the pandemic where we have made so much progress, Congress will not walk away.”

But while dr. Jha may be an optimist, the mood among Senate Republicans is pessimistic; Some even claim the White House lied to them earlier this spring when officials said that without new aid, the government would have no money to buy vaccines and antivirals. Recently, the White House said it was pulling money from other programs to buy the drugs and needles.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are consumed by a bipartisan package of gun safety laws and are eager to leave town for the upcoming Fourth of July break. Approving Covid-19 aid is not on the immediate agenda.

The remarks of Dr. Jha came as the Biden administration focuses on rolling out coronavirus shots for newly eligible children as young as 6 months. He said the White House has so far delivered more than four million doses of pediatric vaccine for children in that age group, but the administration won’t know how many doses have been administered until next week. Pfizer’s BioNTech protocol for the tiny tots requires three shots, while Moderna’s requires two.

It is questionable whether the vaccines, which are often administered in pharmacies, are just as accessible to the very young as to other age groups. A federal law, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, was amended to authorize pharmacists to only give Covid vaccines to people aged 3 and over.

At the same time, many parents are reluctant to have their young children vaccinated at pharmacies, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They “want to take their younger children to where they are routinely vaccinated, whether that be the local community health center or the local pediatrician,” she added.

For these reasons, administration officials say they have gone to great lengths to recruit pediatricians to the child immunization program.

dr Yeah, Dr. Walensky and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Mr. Biden’s top medical adviser on the pandemic, used Thursday’s briefing to encourage vaccination of children.

“The known and potential benefits clearly outweigh the known and potential risks in this pediatric population,” said Dr. Fauci, who is recovering from his own battle with the coronavirus, added, “We’re all very excited about getting your kids vaccinated.”

dr Addressing parents directly, Walensky said: “The number one thing you need to do is get your child and family vaccinated, and that will provide you and your family with the greatest protection and prevent you from being at risk of serious disease. ”

and dr Fauci, 81, credited his resilience more than a week after testing positive — “I’m feeling really good” — to the vaccination and double booster and said he sees himself as “given my age, an example of what we’re all talking about today.” .”

“And I think if that weren’t the case,” he said, referring to the fact that he’d been given a slew of shots and boosters, “I probably wouldn’t be speaking to you if you look as good as I think you do.” , now.”

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