WASHINGTON, DC — Today, less than 50% of Americans are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and 0% of America's nearly 50,000,000 children under 12 years of age are. Vaccine experts project late fall 2021 for the authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for children 5-11 and for those under 5, there will be a longer wait.
While children have been less likely to become seriously ill from COVID infections, we know that more than 4 million children have been diagnosed with COVID to date and many more have experienced mental and behavioral health conditions exacerbated by pandemic-related isolation, fear and loss. The best protection for our nation's children from COVID-19 and COVID-related suffering is timely vaccination of all eligible Americans.
Over the past year and a half, America's children's hospitals and their dedicated teams have heroically worked to do their part during the devastating pandemic. With the recent surge in COVID cases around the country, we must go further to protect our nation's children. That is why we are urging all children's hospitals and all hospitals caring for children to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all health care personnel. Requiring vaccination sets an example for fellow pediatric clinicians, schools and childcare centers and parents and families—building immunity and lessening illness for all.
Children's hospitals and their teams are on the front lines of caring for children, within our walls and in our communities. As our communities open up and seasonal viruses such as the common cold, flu and respiratory syncytial virus—or RSV—return with a vengeance, children's hospitals' primary care practices, emergency rooms and inpatient units will swell with sick kids. We need to do everything we can to ensure employees are healthy and children are protected from a virus we can control through COVID-19 vaccination.
Many hospitals and health systems have already taken the first steps to mandate vaccination, and we applaud their efforts and encourage all children's hospitals to lock arms with them and with each other to protect our children's health.