Pursuant to the Florida Surgeon General’s announcement that he will make a recommendation that healthy children not be vaccinated for COVID-19, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) released a statement on March 9 attributable to AAFP President Sterling N. Ransone, Jr., MD, FAAFP, as follows:
“The AAFP reaffirms that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and have been shown to prevent serious illness and hospitalizations in children and adolescents, including children who are otherwise healthy. Given the unknown impact of long-term COVID, especially in children, it is essential that all patient populations who are eligible be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2. The likelihood of infection and the health risks associated with COVID-19 outweigh any potential risks associated with vaccination.
“Family physicians play a critical role in ensuring all members of the community, including children, have access to the COVID-19 vaccine, flu vaccine, and other routine immunizations that prevent dangerous diseases. Children aged 5-11 are just as likely to get COVID-19 as adults and they have also been shown to be a source of virus transmission for adults. We know that the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most successful ways to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities healthy.
“The AAFP applauded the Food and Drug Administration when it granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine last year, for individuals aged 5-11 based on the summary of the efficacy and safety data. In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine for use in children 5 to 11 years. The AAFP approved the advisory committee’s recommendation after conducting a thorough review of the evidence.
“Eligible children should be vaccinated against COVID-19 because the virus poses a health risk. ‘Healthy’ children can spread COVID-19 to vulnerable individuals, including younger siblings and classmates who are not yet old enough to be vaccinated. Vaccinations not only prevent hospitalizations and infections; they also reduce the need for future school closures and disruptions and allow sports, after-school and other school-based social events to occur with reduced risk. Protecting these important developmental activities helps improve our children’s quality of life.
“Family physicians remain a trusted source of information for their patients and local communities. We have trusting relationships with our patients, understand their unique health needs and stand ready to counsel them about and administer COVID-19 vaccines. Every ounce of prevention—especially vaccination—helps us combat this virus. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, please see our resources at FamilyDoctor.org.”