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First lady Jill Biden, Sen. Manchin, Jennifer Garner visit Capital High School

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 3:10 PM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Just hours after the first 12 to 15-year-olds received the COVID-19 vaccine in West Virginia Thursday, the wheels of Executive One Foxtrot landed at Yeager Airport in Charleston.

First lady Jill Biden, Sen. Joe Manchin and actress and West Virginia native Jennifer Garner traveled to West Virginia’s Capital City Thursday to tour a vaccination site at Capital High School.

Before making it to the podium, Biden, Manchin and Garner spoke to leaders at the vaccination site and even provided some moral support by holding the hands of several teens rolling up their sleeves.

Sen. Manchin spoke first before introducing Garner, who he called ‘West Virginia’s first daughter.’

But before Garner spoke, Manchin addressed the continuing political tug of war in Washington: “We’ve got to stop this tribal politicism. Tribal politicism is awful. I don’t care whether you’re on the right or left ... we all come together to identify a problem, we all come together to cure a problem,” Manchin said.

Garner who is a prominent figure and ambassador of the Save the Children aid organization focused her remarks on vaccinating the nation’s youth and child poverty.

“I am so happy to be here. I can’t even tell you how happy I am to be here. To come home, in the spring, in the sunshine and the mountains bursting with green,” said Garner. “I am even more thrilled to be welcoming Dr. Biden, our first lady here to our beautiful state. Lots of people talk about, ‘Oh West Virginia it’s a beautiful place.’ Lots of people say, ‘we care about every state in the country,’ but who really shows up right in the beginning of the administration and says this matters. Kids matter. You matter to us.”

A graduate of George Washington High School, Garner poked fun at her rival school by saying it was ‘almost as much of a thrill to be at Capital High’ as it would’ve been to be at her alma mater GW.

“President Biden must be at GW or we would be there today. This is my rival High School and it’s really big and fancy and I’m feeling a little bit of jealousy,” said Garner turning toward First Lady Biden from the podium.

Garner stressed the importance of ‘getting the virus behind us’ and making sure everyone gets vaccinated, including two of her children who are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I am thrilled to be vaccinating two of my three kids on Tuesday,” said Garner. “I don’t even know if they know it yet, but they know it now – it’s happening. I can not wait. It couldn’t happen any sooner. I wish they were here right now.”

U.S. health advisers endorsed the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in kids as young as 12 on Wednesday — just as planned new guidelines say it’s OK for people of any age to get a coronavirus shot at the same time as other needed vaccinations.

Pfizer’s vaccine has been used for months in people 16 and older, and earlier this week the Food and Drug Administration cleared its use for those as young as age 12. But before rolling it out to the younger kids, much of the nation was awaiting recommendations from CDC’s advisers — and the panel concluded the same dose adults use is safe and strongly protective in those 12 to 15 years old, too.

The CDC rapidly accepted its advisers’ recommendation.

Garner and Biden served on the board of Save the Children together. Biden was appointed as chair of the board of trustees for the organization in 2017.

Garner said Thursday that with the help of Sen. Manchin she was able to secure the help of the Save the Children organization in six West Virginia counties; Calhoun, McDowell, Clay, Gilmer, Fayette and Nicholas Counties.

“We’ve worked here for 11 years, bringing $4 of private money in for every dollar of state money,” said Garner. “Sending thousands of kids to kindergarten, ready to learn and thousands more getting them reading at grade-level by third grade. Unlike any administration in history, the Biden administration is making an enormous commitment in 0 to 8. Investing in little kids. Investing in mothers right when they have those kids and have made that inherent promise, “your life is going to be better than mine. You’re going to get an education that maybe I couldn’t.”

Next to the podium was a Capital High Student who spoke about his pandemic experience and the importance of vaccinations before introducing the First Lady.

First Lady Biden said it was wonderful to be in West Virginia and spoke of the state’s rolling farms and white watered rivers. But, she said Thursday it’s not just the landscape that makes West Virginia special saying, ”it’s the community and spirit of independence that has been woven into your state since its beginning. I know you’ve shown that spirit in the last year—picking up groceries for your neighbor, or checking in on the church member who’s spending holidays alone, or volunteering at a food bank. This community found ways to come together even when you were apart.”

The First Lady spoke about the safety of vaccinations: “Now, there’s a fair amount of misinformation out there, and some of my friends have asked me, ‘Is the vaccination safe?’ And you all know the answer - the answer is yes. I got my shot, and I promise It didn’t even hurt and I hate needles. Even the young girl that I held her hand she said, ‘oh I didn’t even feel it.’

Dr. Biden encouraged those still hesitant to discuss the vaccine with their doctor, pharmacist or a trusted pediatrician.

She was also excited to announce that many are getting back the things they lost during the pandemic.

“Hugging the people we love. I mean, how great, will that be? I mean, we all miss that just most of all, and then just smiling at strangers and some of the people know that we’re actually smiling with them,” said First Lady Biden. “And it’s because this state worked so hard to step up and get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

Dr. Biden said the most powerful thing any of us can do, young or old, right now is get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

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