Kids have questions about the troubling, bizarre world we've been living in since the pandemic first hit. And, for parents, it's nice to get a little help handling a few of their queries. For example, one mom at CNN's recent town hall was relieved when President Joe Biden addressed her young daughter's coronavirus concerns with empathy and kindness.
At Tuesday night's town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jessica Salas and her 8-year-old daughter Layla asked President Biden about the coronavirus vaccine. Salas explained to Biden that her kids were struggling with the pandemic and they "often ask if they will catch COVID and if they do, are they going to die."
"They are watching as others get the vaccine, and they would like to know, when will kids be able to get the vaccine?" the concerned mom asked.
Biden spoke directly to Layla with his response. "First of all, kids don't get COVID very often, it's unusual for that to happen," he said, telling Layla, and by extension everyone in America, that the COVID-19 vaccine had not yet been tested on children. "We haven't even done tests yet on children as to whether or not the certain vaccines would work or not work or what is needed," he explained. "You're the safest group of people in the whole world."
While Oxford University has just begun testing the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on children between the ages of 6 and 17 years old, the results of those tests are still a long way off. Additionally, that vaccine is not yet available for adults in the U.S. either.
But like the true father and grandfather he is, Biden reassured Layla. "I wouldn't worry about it, baby. I promise you," he said. "But I know it's kind of worrisome. Don't be scared, honey. Don't be scared. You are going to be fine and we are going to make sure mommy is fine, too."
Salas and Layla spoke to CNN on Wednesday about their conversation with President Biden, and the relieved mom admitted that "it was great that he comforted my child ... He also acknowledged that they haven't started testing yet, which is understandable." As ProPublica has explained, the immune systems of children are different from adults, and researchers want to be extra cautious about side effects and dosage sizes before starting vaccine trials on children.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.