The sooner younger children can be included in research, the better, as widespread vaccinations will help protect communities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics urges all eligible adults and teens to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them. The AAP highlights the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine while pushing for clinical trials to include younger children as an urgent next step toward ending the spread of the virus.
In guidance released this week, the AAP observes that pediatricians — long accustomed to administering vaccines and seeing firsthand their success in preventing disease — are ready and able to help in the effort.
“Research has shown the new vaccines to be remarkably effective,” said AAP President Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP. “The vaccine is a powerful tool that – in conjunction with other safety measures like face masks, good hygiene and physical distancing – can help us end the suffering and death caused by COVID-19. Pediatricians can play a key role in making that happen.”
The AAP advocates for pediatricians who have the capacity to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine to older family members or caregivers of children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. Willing pediatric offices could serve as vaccination sites for the general public as part of a community response, with appropriate resources provided.
The AAP guidance is here.
Millions of people have received the current vaccines, which underwent a rigorous review and approval process for people 16 and older. Two mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, are approved for use in selected populations recommended by the U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Vaccine trials are ongoing, and current studies include children as young as 12 years of age.
“It is critical that pediatric patients of all ages be included in trials as quickly as possible,” Dr. Beers said. “We are especially concerned about children who belong to racial, ethnic, and cultural groups that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic or who have underlying conditions that place them at increased risk for developing severe COVID-19 infection.”
The AAP guidance states that the COVID-19 vaccine should be available to teens who are pregnant or breastfeeding and who meet the criteria set by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices as a priority group.
“Widespread administration of the vaccine is a huge step toward returning to ‘normal,’ a time when we can safely visit, share meals, play together and hug our grandchildren,” Dr. Beers said. “We talk about game-changers. The vaccine is a game-changer and we urge everyone who has the opportunity to get it to sign up now.”
- For parents: When Can Children Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
- AAP COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
- CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Product Information
- COVID-19 ACIP Vaccine Recommendations
- CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit