Federal government supporting youth vaccination efforts

As K-12 campuses across the nation begin to welcome students back, some for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, the Biden administration on Aug. 5 announced four new efforts it is taking to vaccinate more eligible young people and keep school communities safe. Youth ages 12 and older are currently eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

“For young people, getting vaccinated right away is the best way back to the things they love — like playing sports, completing their studies, and spending time with friends and loved ones,” a press release detailing the actions states.

The initiatives include incorporating COVID-19 vaccination into sports physicals this fall for student athletes; having pediatricians attend back-to-school nights as a resource for families; assisting schools with additional resources to host pop-up vaccine clinics; and launching the back-to-school “Week of Action” to encourage youth vaccinations.

On Aug. 5, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) alongside 10 other sports and medicine organizations published a joint statement encouraging medical providers to inquire about an individual’s COVID-19 vaccine status during sports physicals and also administer the vaccine when possible.

“Both AAP and AMSSM have issued updated guidance for physicians incorporating COVID-19 vaccination into sports physical protocols, and AAP has issued revised forms for doctors, parents and student athletes to use to document their pre-participation examination including language on COVID-19 vaccination,” the release states.

To drive conversation during back-to-school meetings, the National Parent Teacher Association has asked parent leaders to host community conversations about vaccinations. AAP is encouraging  local pediatricians to be part of the events to address parent questions and concerns. AAP is also producing digital materials regarding COVID-19 and children.

Prior to the Aug. 5 announcement, President Joe Biden had requested all school districts nationwide to hold at least one pop-up vaccination clinic during back-to-school season and directed to pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program to help. On Aug. 5, the administration released planning resources including “a detailed guide for hosting school-based clinics, template letters and text messages for district and school leaders to use in sending messages home to students and families about the vaccine, resources for teachers to use in discussing the vaccine with students and their parents, and materials parent leaders can use as part of community conversations on the vaccine.”

The new actions build on the Department of Education’s Return to School Roadmap for fall planning.