The COVID-19 pandemic has presented tremendous challenges to the United States health care system, as well as to individual physicians, communities, and families. Throughout the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has striven to elevate the needs of infants, children, and adolescents, as well as the pediatricians who care for this population. Historically, these communities have often been overlooked and deprioritized in health care systems, and these deficits persisted into the pandemic. To fill this gap, the AAP took on an essential role in leading the national response for pediatrics. This article details the AAP pandemic response and includes the perspectives of multiple AAP leaders involved in the response and details on Academy advocacy with high-level staff and officials at federal agencies and the executive branch. The AAP provided initial guidance to pediatricians that predated the World Health Organization’s declaration of a public health emergency. The Academy then developed entirely new approaches to meet the unprecedented needs of its practicing members and families by providing timely, rigorous information endorsed by pediatric experts. When COVID-19 vaccines were developed, the AAP strongly advised the inclusion of those younger than 18 years in vaccine trials and advocated for equitable distribution plans. The AAP provided its members with strategies for combating misinformation. The Academy was at the forefront of advocating for the safe return to in-person schooling, recognizing that social isolation was contributing to the growing mental health crisis among youth. In 2021, the AAP, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. In addition, the AAP implemented educational and training opportunities for clinicians and developed resources for youth and their families. Following the end of the public health emergency, AAP members continue to utilize innovations and efficiencies developed as part of their pandemic response. The successes of the AAP pandemic response, alongside lessons learned, help define an important model for responding to future pandemics and public health emergencies in ways that support children, families, and the pediatric workforce.

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