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First lady Jill Biden, second gentleman Doug Emhoff visit Wisconsin to urge kids to get COVID-19 vaccine

Biden, Emhoff visit staff and children in vaccine clinic at Children's Wisconsin, meet with victims of Waukesha parade tragedy at city hall

First lady Jill Biden participates in an event at Children's Wisconsin
First lady Jill Biden participates in an event at Children’s Wisconsin Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

First lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff visited southeast Wisconsin Wednesday evening to meet with families affected by last month’s tragedy at the Waukesha Christmas parade.

“Though we have been changed by this tragedy, we are not diminished — instead, we grow together to hold both our sorrow and our joy,” Biden said. “The grannies keep dancing, the high school band keeps marching and Waukesha is lit up in blue. That is the antidote to the darkness.”

Emhoff said he was moved by speaking with the families, and by the community’s response to the tragedy.

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“Waukesha, Wisconsin is now going to forever hold a special place in my heart, from what I’ve seen here today,” he said. “As a father, and as a son, it’s really impossible to meet these families and not think about my own families and my own kids — what these families have gone through is unimaginable.”

Before traveling to Waukesha, Biden, Emhoff and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy met with staff at Children’s Hospital Wisconsin to talk about mental health and COVID-19 vaccines for kids. Biden brought cookies from the White House, and told hospital staff that this year’s White House Christmas decorations are in honor of frontline workers.

They visited children at the hospital’s vaccine clinic, and spent some time playing games with the kids at an on-site winter carnival before making remarks about the COVID-19 vaccine’s emergency use authorization for kids 5 and up.

First lady Jill Biden participates in an event at Children's Wisconsin
First lady Jill Biden participates in an event at Children’s Wisconsin Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Milwaukee. Morry Gash/AP Photos

“We’re here in Milwaukee because the president, the vice president, Doug and I, we care about this community, and we care about your families,” Biden said. “It’s not just another way to protect your kids against COVID-19, it’s the best way — it’s been thoroughly reviewed and rigorously tested. It’s safe, it’s free, and it’s available for every child in this country 5 and up.”

Murthy emphasized the ways the vaccine was tailored and tested specifically for children in vaccine trials, and that review panels saw no serious adverse effects in children who were vaccinated. Murthy said he’s taken his own 5-year-old son to get vaccinated.

“We know that COVID is not harmless in children — no one knows that better than the staff of a children’s hospital,” he said.

At the hospital, Biden also met with the families of two children who were injured at the Waukesha Christmas parade. One, a 10-year-old girl who had a brain injury and broken bones, was released last night, while the other, an 11-year-old, is still being treated at Children’s for a traumatic brain injury. A total of 18 children had been brought to the hospital after the parade.

Murthy thanked hospital staff, from doctors to nurses to cleaning and administrative staff, for their response to the Waukesha parade.

“I want to just take a moment to acknowledge the tragedy last month in Waukesha — I know that so many in this room continue to feel the pain and the trauma that resulted from this act of violence,” he said. “I know that you feel it as survivors and witnesses to this terrible act, you feel it as family members, as friends as neighbors, you feel it as the people who cared for many of these children, right here in this hospital.”