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US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary visits New Haven to promote COVID vaccines for young kids

Secretary Xavier Becerra was in the Elm City to spread the message for a national "We Can Do This" campaign.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Connecticut got a visit from a top U.S. health official on Wednesday: Secretary Xavier Becerra with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Mr. Becerra traveled to New Haven to visit the Fair Haven Community Health Care Center, getting the word out about a national campaign dubbed, "We Can Do This."

“I want him to meet the staff. I want him to meet the patients," said Dr. Suzanne Lagarde, CEO at Fair Haven Community Health Care. "You know, these folks come from Washington, they meet people like me, they meet the governor, they meet the mayor. They need to meet our staff who in many instances are our patients and are the residents of this community.”

Becerra toured the health center. He met with the staff as well as a family that vaccinated their 6-month baby last week at the center.

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“We chose to have our child vaccinated as soon as we heard the pediatrician’s recommendation. As soon as we saw that it was approved by the FDA and the CDC," said David Weinreb, the father of 6-month-old Dalia.

The health center and the National Diaper Bank Network in New Haven will be joining in on the "We Can Do This" campaign. It's meant to instill confidence in COVID-19 vaccines for kids as young as 6 months old. 

"We’re using diapers as a vehicle, as kind of a message tool to get that information out to parents. We are the messengers," said Troy Moore, Chief of External Affairs for National Diaper Bank Network.

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When they go out into the community to speak with their clients, they'll also hand out resources for child vaccinations.

"It’s going to be a process. We need to educate. we need to leverage the trust that this community has in us," Dr. Lagarde said. 

"My message to everyone when it comes to vaccination is, talk to the folks you trust," Secretary Becerra said. 

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That includes doctors, pediatricians, and more. And for those who may be on the fence about vaccinating their child, Marlene Edelstein, Dalia's mom, said it was a no-brainer for her. But, she understands why some may be hesitant and wants to share her message. 

“I hear them. All I think about all day every day, 'what, how I can keep Dalia healthy and safe and happy?' And the evidence just so overwhelmingly shows that this is a safe and effective choice," said Edelstein. 

Julia LeBlanc is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jleblanc@fox61.com Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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