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Washington Report: COVID-19 vaccine testing in children, Medicaid cuts

January 1, 2021

AAP: Test COVID-19 vaccines in children, combat hesitancy

The Academy's advocacy efforts to ensure children can benefit from a safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine are robust and ever evolving, as the vaccine development process continues.

On the same November week data showed more than 1 million children have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic started, the Academy reasserted its call to action for children to be included in vaccine trials.

“If we do not add children to these research trials very soon, there will be a significant delay in when children are able to access potentially life-saving vaccines. This is unconscionable,” Then-AAP President Sara “Sally” H. Goza, M.D., FAAP, said in a press release.

The Academy had outlined these concerns to health officials earlier in the fall. The AAP later led a letter to Operation Warp Speed with six other medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, stressing the importance of following established scientific, safety and review protocols to increase public confidence in a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Goza and other AAP experts participated in numerous national and state media interviews to amplify these messages and urge elected leaders to implement a national strategy to address the pandemic and reduce its spread.

Additionally, the AAP led a letter with more than 100 organizations to congressional leaders, calling for the the Community Immunity During COVID-19 Act and the VACCINES Act to be included in the next COVID-19 legislative package.

Immunization rates among children and adults have fallen drastically during the pandemic. The bills would address that concerning trend by providing funding to state and local public health departments to promote routine immunizations during the pandemic and combating vaccine hesistancy. At press time, Congress had yet to pass new coronavirus reponse legislation.

For the latest AAP advocacy developments related to COVID-19, visit

FAAPs named to Biden-Harris COVID-19 board

David A. Kessler, M.D., FAAP, of Chevy Chase, Md., and Julie Y. Morita, M.D., FAAP, of Chicago, were appointed to the 13-member Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board by the Biden-Harris Transition.

Dr. Kessler is co-chair of the advisory board along with Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., former U.S. surgeon general (2014-’17), and Marcella Nunez-Smith, M.D., M.H.S., associate dean for health equity research at Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Morita is a member of the board.

The group will advise President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and staff in planning a federal response to the pandemic. It also will consult with state and local health officials on health and economic matters, racial and ethnic disparities and reopening schools and businesses safely, according to a press release from the Biden-Harris Transition.

Dr. Kessler is a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at University of California, San Francisco and was Food and Drug Administration commissioner for President George H.W. Bush and President William J. Clinton from 1990-’97.

Dr. Morita is executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and previously was commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health for two decades. She is a past member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and has served as a CDC epidemic intelligence service officer.

Report: Short-term Medicaid cuts could lead to long-term harm

As states face significant financial strain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, a new report shows that any short-term budget cuts to Medicaid could have serious long-term consequences for health.

The report from Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families and the Commonwealth Fund outlines how Medicaid coverage for children and pregnant women is linked to improved overall health and lower disability rates in adulthood as well as higher educational attainment and greater financial security.

It also is associated with fewer chronic conditions, hospitalizations and emergency department visits.

If states cut funding for their Medicaid programs, it could lead to poorer health and economic outcomes in the long-term, particularly among communities of color, according to the report.

“Any cuts to Medicaid to address revenue shortfalls and budget deficits resulting from the COVID-19 crisis could have a significant long-term adverse impact," the report states.

Melinda A. Williams-Willingham, M.D., FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Federal Government Affairs, joined a briefing with leading experts to discuss the report and how Medicaid budget cuts could harm children and families.

“I've witnessed the harmful consequences of the pandemic in my own patients. Families are under significant stress — from financial stress to food insecurity — and that impacts children's physical and mental health,” Dr. Williams-Willingham said.

Medicaid supports about 67% of the children in her Georgia practice. She spoke about the program’s critical role in promoting children's lifelong health as well as the impact cuts would have on providers and children's ability to access needed care.

“Cuts to Medicaid would be devastating for the children and families who rely on it. Children must be able to access the care they need, when they need it — Medicaid is a lifeline program that makes that possible,” Dr. Williams-Willingham said.

Visit to read the report.

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