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For Release:

2/25/2021

Media Contact:

Jamie Poslosky
202-724-3301
jposlosky@aap.org


AAP writes to White House leaders: take urgent action so children are not left out of COVID-19 vaccination

Washington, DC—The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) today sent a letter to White House and federal officials urging the Biden administration to “use every measure available to achieve authorization of COVID-19 vaccines in children as soon as can be done safely.”

The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine appears likely to receive emergency use authorization later this week. While commending the swift development and review of another vaccine to protect against COVID-19, and one that only requires one dose, the AAP in its letter urged the administration to do more to speed the enrollment of children of all ages in clinical trials. The other two vaccines on the market—produced by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna—have been approved for people aged 16 and older and 18 and older, respectively, though some current vaccine trials include children as young as 12.

“While it is heartening to see a third vaccine on the market to help protect our communities against COVID-19, we are not moving fast enough to ensure our children can benefit from these life-saving vaccines,” said AAP President Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP. “At the current pace of research, we may not see a vaccine approved for children under age 12 until early next year, which means many children may not benefit from a COVID-19 vaccine until almost a year after one has been available for adults.”

“This is hard to fathom given how children have suffered throughout the pandemic in ways both seen and unseen,” said Dr. Beers. “We cannot allow children to be an afterthought when they have shared so much burden throughout this pandemic.”

According to data compiled by the AAP and Children’s Hospital Association, more than 3 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States. Among the children who have acquired COVID-19, 247 have died from the virus, with more than two-thirds of these deaths occurring in Black and Latinx children.

In addition to suffering from the physical effects of the virus, the duration of the pandemic, isolation from friends and family, effects of parental stress and economic hardship, and loss of loved ones are also taking their toll on children’s mental health. Youth suicides and pediatric emergency room visits have been on the rise.

“Having a COVID-19 vaccine available for children is essential for our nation to end the pandemic,” said Dr. Beers. “And we must make sure that vaccine trials in children are equitable and include those at increased risk who could most benefit from a vaccine, particularly Black and Latinx children. We need to apply the same urgency to vaccinate children as we have for adults. Pediatricians stand ready to partner with the federal government to make this happen.”

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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.