Statement from Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics
“A month ago, it was with great hope and anticipation that we applauded the approval of the first COVID-19 vaccines. Unfortunately, it is now with great alarm and dismay that we observe how deeply fragmented and uncoordinated vaccine distribution has been. Communication regarding COVID-19 vaccines to clinicians, families and communities has also been limited. We must change course immediately. Pediatricians stand ready to assist.
“Pediatricians across the country are frustrated at the uneven and haphazard distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Many AAP members and other physicians have no clear path to receiving the vaccine, especially those who do not work for a large medical center or hospital system. Those who have been immunized have limited information on next steps to share with their patients, practices and communities.
“Pediatricians, perhaps more than any other medical specialty, understand how to distribute vaccines. We do this every day, in every community, in many different types of health care settings. The American Academy of Pediatrics, and our 67,000 members, stands ready and willing to advise and assist in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Immunizations are not simple, but we know the protocols and processes that work best.
“Without clear and immediate action, the situation will only get worse. We are at the starting line of vaccine distribution, with the smallest groups designated to receive vaccine. As we move into the 1b and 1c phases of vaccine distribution – or as more vaccines become available – the scale will become dramatically vaster. And so, it is imperative that robust systems be put in place immediately to make sure no dose is wasted, and that these systems use and expand upon the existing vaccine delivery infrastructure.
“Stretched state and county health departments need resources to organize immunization systems at a mass scale. It is unclear when they will receive funding already allocated to them in the COVID-19 relief bill. The AAP urges HHS/CDC to disburse funds for vaccine distribution allocated to the states in the COVID relief bill as quickly as possible.
“While we look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration on this and other health challenges that impact children over the next four years, this urgent problem must be addressed now. Infection rates and deaths continue to climb. There is not a moment to waste, and we are ready to help.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.