The American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAP-CA), representing over 3,500 pediatricians, has announced its support for SB 871, the Keep Schools Open and Safe Act, introduced Monday by State Senator Richard Pan, MD.

Families across the state and country have faced disruption, anxiety and trauma from this pandemic for almost two years. Confidence and certainty are things we all long for,” said Pan, a Democrat who represents a Sacramento-area district. The legislation would build on a 2015 law that eliminated the personal belief exemption for all other childhood vaccinations required for schoolchildren.

We believe in the importance of having children attend school in-person and the COVID-19 vaccination is an integral part of keeping our school communities safe. Pediatricians have seen first-hand the detrimental impact on education as well as physical, social, and emotional health of children with distance learning across the nation and the state of California,” states AAP-CA Chair, Yasuko Fukuda, MD, FAAP, of San Francisco.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has reported that nearly 6.3 million children have been infected with COVID-19 since the pandemic’s onset. More than 22,400 children have been hospitalized and at least 605 children aged 18 and younger have died.

Immunizations are a safe and effective way to fight infectious diseases,” Dr. Fukuda continued.  “The eradication of smallpox and polio, as well as prevention of meningitis, measles and whooping cough show that vaccines work. New vaccines are developed and evaluated by a long-standing rigorous process to ensure effectiveness and safety.”

To implement vaccination of children successfully, collaboration is very important. Physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, school administrators, educators, and health departments working together can educate families and ensure equitable access to immunization. “We need to acknowledge the fact that we do have children who are not attending school in person because the schools aren’t safe yet,” Pan added.