Editor’s note:For the latest news on COVID-19, visit http://bit.ly/AAPNewsCOVID19.
Pediatricians are experienced in safe, effective delivery of vaccines to large numbers of children, making them valuable contributors to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in all communities.
To become a COVID-19 vaccinator, pediatricians must be enrolled through a health practice or organization as a vaccination provider in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccination Program.
The CDC has outlined the steps vaccination providers must follow to participate in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program. Those interested should visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/provider-enrollment.html to find the provider agreement information, training and reporting requirements.
- Sign the CDC COVID-19 vaccination provider agreement to acknowledge understanding of the administration details, storage and handling of vaccines, and rules about fees, costs, coverage and payment.
- COVID-19 vaccine training is required of everyone, including health care professionals who have administered vaccine in the past 12 months and Vaccines for Children providers.
- As part of the CDC’s reporting requirements, vaccine providers must enroll in their jurisdiction’s immunization information system. The CDC also requires vaccinators to follow daily steps such as entering specific vaccine administration information into their organization’s medical record system within 24 hours of vaccine administration and reporting that information to an immunization information system within 72 hours.
Expanded vaccinator eligibility
To expand the pool of qualified people who can participate in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program, the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act declaration recently was amended to include “current and retired traditional and non-traditional” health care professionals and students in health care programs.
A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Emergency (PHE) webpage includes the complete definition of workforce eligibility and links to register in your community at http://bit.ly/covidprepact. The PHE website also outlines the liability protections under federal and state/territorial law with respect to all claims for loss resulting from the administration or use of a covered countermeasure (i.e., the COVID-19 vaccine).
Vaccine timing, pediatric considerations
Children require more vaccines than any other age group, making it critical for pediatricians to act now to ensure their patients are caught up on all recommended immunizations.
For children eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, pediatricians also must factor in periods during which other vaccines cannot be administered. Administration of the COVID-19 vaccine with other childhood or adolescent immunizations has not yet been studied extensively.
According to the CDC, “Because data are lacking on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines, the vaccine series should routinely be administered alone, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration of any other vaccine. However, COVID-19 and other vaccines may be administered within a shorter period in situations where the benefits of vaccination are deemed to outweigh the potential unknown risks of vaccine coadministration” (https://bit.ly/3uy8YqX).
COVID-19 vaccines require a 14-day interval before or after administration of any other vaccines. For example:
- 49 days for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (14 days before dose 1; 21 days between doses; 14 days after dose 2);
- 56 days for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (14 days before dose 1; 28 days between doses; 14 days after dose 2); and
- 28 days for the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (14 days before the single-dose vaccine;14 days after).
The CDC also provides details about vaccine storage and handling. Details for all COVID-19 vaccine products are at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/hcp/faq.html. In the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine section, for example, are details such as:
- The four options for vaccine storage.
- How ultra-cold storage requirements affect steps related to shipment inspection.
- What to do with a vial removed from a tray and how often to remove vials/doses from thermal shipping containers for use.
- Supplies related to ultra-cold storage (e.g., dry ice, who is responsible for replenishment and how often); and
- CDC requirements for use of a specific type of temperature monitoring device.
Visit the AAP website, https://bit.ly/3t4Q1M9, for FAQs related to administering COVID-19 vaccine to pediatric patients.