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White House Official Says He’s Still Optimistic About Covid Aid Despite G.O.P. Objections

President Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator said on Thursday that he remained optimistic Congress would approve billions of dollars in new emergency aid to fight Covid, even as Republicans on Capitol Hill have made it clear that the aid package is nearing death.

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

But although Dr. Jha is an optimist, the mood among Senate Republicans is pessimistic; some even argue that 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 antiviral drugs. More recently, the White House said it took the money from other programs to buy the drugs and injections.

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are consumed by a bipartisan package of gun safety legislation and are eager to get out of town before the July 4 recess. Approving Covid-19 aid is not directly on the agenda.

The comments of Dr. Jha came as the Biden administration focused on rolling out coronavirus shots for newly eligible children as young as 6 months old. He said the White House had so far delivered more than four million doses of pediatric vaccine to children in that age group, but the government would not know how many doses had been delivered until next week. The Pfizer-BioNTech protocol for the youngest requires three shots, while Moderna’s requires two.

One concern is whether the vaccines, which are often dispensed in pharmacies, will be as easily accessible to toddlers as they are to other age groups. A federal law, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Actwas amended to allow pharmacists to administer Covid vaccines only to individuals 3 years of age or older.

At the same time, many parents may be reluctant to have their young children vaccinated in 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, be it their local health center or their local pediatrician,” she added.

For those reasons, government officials say they have gone to great lengths to engage pediatricians for the childhood vaccination program.

dr. ya, dr. Walensky and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser to the pandemic, used Thursday’s briefing to promote childhood vaccination.

“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 bout with the coronavirus, added: “We are all very excited about vaccinating your children.”

dr. Walensky addressed parents directly: “The most important thing you need to do is get your child vaccinated, get your family vaccinated, and that will give you and your family the most protection and puts you at no risk of serious illness. †

And Dr Fauci, 81, attributed his resilience more than a week after a positive test – “I feel very good” – to get vaccinated and get a double boost, saying he considered himself “an example, given my age, of where we are all today talk about.”

“And I believe if it wasn’t,” he said, referring to receiving a full range of injections and boosters, “I most likely wouldn’t be talking to you and looking as good as I look, I guess.” , at this time.”

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