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The AAP is urging federal officials to reduce the burdens of administering COVID-19 vaccines, especially as they prepare for commercial distribution.
“Commercialization of COVID-19 vaccines now — when most adults have received the vaccines but most younger children have not — has the potential to leave children behind,” AAP President Moira A. Szilagyi, M.D., Ph.D., FAAP, wrote in a letter to Ashish Jha, M.D., White House COVID-19 response coordinator.
If commercialization happens soon, clinicians could have to pay for some vaccines upfront with no guarantee they will recoup the costs. They also are grappling with administrative burdens such as time for counseling, ordering logistics, vaccine labeling, storage space and rules on waste.
Dr. Szilagyi laid out numerous actions the administration could take to help address these hurdles:
- Purchase enough vaccines for children now so they can be provided at no cost to pediatricians.
- Lower the number of minimum vials per order.
- Adopt single-dose vials or pre-filled syringes to reduce waste.
- Improve labeling of COVID-19 vials.
- Simplify the dosing schedules so Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be interchangeable.
- Continue weekly supplies of COVID vaccines.
- Allow flexible returns once commercialization is in effect.
- Allow longer invoice and payment schedules.
- Ensure insurers upload vaccine codes and are ready to pay before commercialization is initiated.
- Encourage pricing guidelines for manufacturers so the cost is not exorbitant for pediatric practices.
- Ensure payment for vaccine counseling for both COVID vaccines and routine immunizations whether vaccine is administered or not.
- Continue to provide COVID vaccines at no cost to patients.
- Increase funding for a public health campaign to promote the need for routine immunizations.
- Allow COVID-19 vaccines to be distributed through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.
- Relax restrictions on storage of public and private vaccines in separate refrigerators.
- Ensure adequate payment levels for VFC providers.
“Simply put, the nation’s pediatricians need to be supported as we attempt to vaccinate our nation’s youngest citizens against COVID-19,” Dr. Szilagyi wrote. “If there are too many financial and practical disincentives for pediatric clinicians to purchase, stock and administer COVID-19 vaccines, we will fail to meet the challenge.”