Vaccines are among the most effective ways to help protect children from many serious and potentially deadly diseases. Unfortunately, the number of children in the US who are up to date on routine vaccinations has declined in recent years, putting them at increased risk for infection. This continued backslide in childhood immunizations and low rates of COVID-19 vaccination is especially alarming as we approach winter months when cases of respiratory illness typically increase. With updated COVID-19 vaccines now available, there is an opportunity to reinforce the importance of pediatric vaccination and answer parents’ questions about recommended vaccines, coadministration, and coverage when administering annual flu vaccines or during well-child visits.
To help address these and other questions, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity and Education Project (CVEEP) co-hosted a webinar to examine how the federally funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program covers payment of COVID-19 vaccines for children. The panel, moderated by NFID President Patricia (Patsy) A. Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP, addressed the importance of VFC, including eligibility and how the program covers updated COVID-19 vaccines, and proven strategies for combatting disparities in childhood immunization rates. Panelists included Peter Marks, MD, PhD, Director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), Food and Drug Administration (FDA); Demetre Daskalakis, MD, MPH, Acting Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and Michelle Fiscus, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Association of Immunization Managers.