Jill Biden and Jennifer Garner Tout Vaccines in School Visit and Celebrate New Mask-Free Guidelines

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OLIVER CONTRERA From left: Mark Shriver, Jennifer Garner, Jill Biden

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden made her first official mask-free appearance Thursday as she was joined by Jennifer Garner to visit an area high school and vaccination site in Charleston, West Virginia.

Reflecting brand new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — which were announced while Biden was flying to West Virginia — the first lady, 69, disembarked without a mask, wearing a pink blazer, white dress and pearl necklace.

She was greeted on the tarmac by Mark Shriver, president of Save the Children Action Network, an organization that provides resources to low-income families.

Reporters traveling with the first lady noted that Garner, 49 — who serves as an ambassador for Save the Children — showed up to greet Biden in a mask but took it off once she saw that everyone else was going mask-free.

According to reporters, Garner and the first lady spent several minutes speaking animatedly before posing for a round of photos. The two have previously worked together as board members for the charity organization.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and his wife, Gayle — who joined Biden on the flight to West Virginia — were also at the event.

Upon arriving at Charleston's Capital High School, the group was greeted by a small number of junior ROTC officers, according to reporters.

After telling the young officers that her late stepson, Beau, had served in the Army National Guard, Biden joked with them: "I know you just want to see Jennifer Garner."

"They've seen me their whole lives!" Garner exclaimed. "Thank you for your service, kids."

RELATED: Jennifer Garner Going Home to West Virginia to Join First Lady Dr. Jill Biden on School Visit

OLIVER CONTRERAS/POOL/AFP via Getty From left: Mark Shriver, Jennifer Garner, First Lady Jill Biden, Gayle Manchin, Senator Joe Manchin

Manchin, meanwhile, appeared overjoyed at the news from the CDC, which earlier in the day announced that all fully vaccinated people are no longer expected in most situations to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

"You've all seen the latest from the CDC? That means no masks inside or outside," the senator said.

After a reporter asked what that meant for the people of West Virginia, Manchin responded:
"It means get vaccinated! We feel free!"

"We feel naked," the first lady interjected, before saying: "I didn't mean it that way!"

"We feel free," Manchin said.

Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on the new CDC guidelines.

At the school (which Garner, a West Virginia native, said was her rival high school), she said she was looking forward to having her own kids vaccinated and told other moms to hang in there.

Following a tour of the school and clinic, both the first lady and Garner delivered remarks.

"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," Biden said.

She added that she was excited about the latest CDC update regarding mask usage: "We're getting back to those things that we lost for so long, hugging the people we love. I mean, how great will that be? 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."

RELATED: Jill Biden Surprises the National Teacher of the Year on TV (with Flowers!)

In her own speech, Garner spoke about getting more people vaccinated: "The most important thing we can do is get this virus behind us. And in order to do that, we have to get anyone with vaccine hesitancy into these chairs."

Manchin, a Democrat, also made remarks at Capital High following the tour in which he referred to Garner as the "first daughter of West Virginia" and "a special person who never forgot where they came from."

The Alias and Camping star was originally scheduled to travel with the first lady last month to Alabama, to promote the administration's COVID relief efforts, but that was scrapped because of severe weather.

Garner — who shares son Samuel, 8, and daughters Seraphina, 11, and Violet, 14, with ex-husband Ben Affleck — campaigned for Joe Biden last year and participated in an Instagram Live conversation with Dr. Biden in October.

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