The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) is deeply concerned by Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo’s March 7 statement that “the Florida Department of Health is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children.” When speaking with the press, Dr. Ladapo cited concerns about myocarditis, a rare disease.
On March 8, the Florida Department of Health issued its Guidance for Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccines which states “…healthy children aged 5 to 17 may not benefit from receiving the currently available COVID-19 vaccine.” The document recommends the vaccine is best suited for children with underlying health conditions. This is a clear divergence from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and may place children at risk.
Contrary to Florida health officials’ remarks, NAPNAP strongly believes that authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in reducing transmission and severity of COVID disease and urges all parents and caregivers to have their eligible children 5 years of age and older vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves and their family and friends who are not eligible for vaccination or are at high risk for severe disease. According to American Academy of Pediatrics data as of March 3, children made up 20.2% of reported weekly COVID-19 cases with 69,000 cases reported in the last week. To date, 12.7 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 and approximately 1,000 have died. Children with and without underlying health conditions have gotten and will continue to get severe COVID-19 infection. Those children who contract COVID-19 can suffer long-haul COVID symptoms and/or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a severe life-threatening condition.
“We support the timely and complete immunization of all infants, children, adolescents, and adults in an attempt to maximize the health and well-being of all people,” said NAPNAP President Andrea Kline-Tilford, PhD, CPNP-AC/PC, FAAN. “The science does not support withholding a life-saving vaccine from healthy children, so we encourage parents and caregivers to consult with their pediatric health care providers as trusted sources for credible, evidence-based information.”
NAPNAP agrees with CDC guidance that the known risks of COVID illness and its related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death, far outweigh the potential risks of having a rare adverse reaction to vaccination, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis. Dispelling misinformation with reliable information sources using clear and understandable language for families is critical. When educating families, pediatric health care providers should be clear that:
- Vaccines are safe and effective in reducing transmission and severity of COVID disease.
- Vaccines are free to all eligible individuals, regardless of insurance coverage, at all points of vaccine distribution.
- Vaccination should be made widely available and administered to stop the spread of the virus for eligible people ages 5 and older.
- COVID-19 vaccines may be safely co-administered with other vaccines (e.g., flu, other).
- Being able to safely return to school and other activities with fewer restrictions improves children’s and adolescent’s mental health.
- Parents/caregivers are encouraged to enroll children in the V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker program for ongoing safety monitoring.
March 8, 2022