Pediatricians are eager to help protect children and families by administering the vaccine, the most effective prevention tool available since the start of the pandemic

ITASCA, IL—The American Academy of Pediatrics supports today’s recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to recommend the use of a COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5-11. The AAP urges families to check with their pediatrician and community health care providers about how to get their eligible children vaccinated, pending a final recommendation from the CDC.

Vaccinating children will protect children’s health and allow them to fully engage in all of the activities that are so important to their health and development. Parents can enjoy greater peace of mind gathering with family members this winter and sending their children to school, sports and other events that were paused during the height of the pandemic.

“Sharing this life-saving vaccine with our children is a huge step forward and provides us all with more confidence and optimism about the future,” said AAP President Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP. “Pediatricians are eager to participate in the immunization process and talk with families about this vaccine. We want to ensure that access to this vaccine is equitable, and that every child is able to benefit.”

Immediately after the ACIP vote to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, the AAP published its updated recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine, including a strong recommendation for children in this age group to receive the vaccine pending the final decision by the CDC. The AAP recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all children and adolescents 5 years of age and older who do not have contraindications using a vaccine authorized for use for their age. Children with prior COVID-19 infection or disease should receive a COVID-19 vaccination to prevent a second infection and to lower the risk of severe illness and hospitalization.

The Academy also updated its interim school guidance, which calls for the continued use of layers of protection, including universal mask-wearing in schools to protect all students and adults. AAP strongly advocates for in-person learning, which can happen safely with adherence to recommended policies and procedures.  The guidance revision emphasizes the importance of immunization and masking as the most important risk mitigation strategies, as supported by new evidence.

“We know from our experience with the Delta variant that this virus is unpredictable, and we cannot afford to be complacent. It is critical to use science and data to guide our decisions about the pandemic and school COVID-19 plans,” Dr. Beers said. “We have also entered flu season, and now have an opportunity for children to receive vaccinations for both the flu and COVID-19, which can be done during a single visit.”

The AAP recognizes that disparities in school funding, quality of school facilities, educational staffing, and resources for enriching curricula among schools have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Ongoing federal, state, and local funding should be provided for all schools so they can continue to implement all the COVID-19 mitigation and safety measures required to protect students and staff.

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