North and South Dakotan pediatricians made renewed calls urging parents to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 as first detections of the Omicron variant in the United States are made known. While both the transmissibility and severeness of illness from this variant are still being studied, pediatricians are telling parents not to wait to immunize their children.

“It is now more important than ever that families use every preventive measure to fight COVID-19,” said Dr. Kathy Anderson, MD, president of the North Dakota AAP. “With the holidays upon us and an unpredictable new variant on its way, vaccines are the best way to reduce the transmission and severeness of COVID-19. We cannot overstate the importance of ensuring children receive this safe and effective vaccine. Immunizing your children will protect them and your families, allowing for a safer and healthier holiday season.”

“As pediatricians, we have dedicated our lives to the health of children – and now we are asking for your help,” said Dr. Rochelle Boote, MD, president of the South Dakota AAP. “Vaccinating your child against COVID-19 is free, easy, and will greatly reduce their risk of becoming seriously ill this holiday season. We have seen far too many children suffer from the lingering effects of COVID-19 infection and the devastation that comes when children spread the virus to their older relatives. Please help us keep your child healthy and call your pediatrician to ask about immunization against COVID-19.”

The renewed calls for vaccinating children come just weeks after over 200 North and South Dakotan pediatricians signed a letter strongly urging parents across both states to immunize their children against COVID-19.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children,” the pediatricians wrote. “This vaccine has undergone rigorous testing and in-depth studies to ensure safety and effective protection against COVID-19 infection. The vaccine is very good at preventing COVID-19 infections, excellent at preventing severe COVID-19 disease and outstanding at preventing COVID-19 deaths. To us, even one child dying from a vaccine-preventable illness such as COVID-19 is one too many.”

Nearly 6.9 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and cases continue remain high. During the last 16 weeks, there have been over 100,000 pediatric cases weekly and since September 2021, there has been over 1.85 million new pediatric cases. To date over 700 pediatric deaths have been attributed to COVID-19.

AAP continues to strongly recommend that all children and adolescents five years of age and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Children 12 years of age and older with moderate or severe immunocompromised state should receive an additional booster 28 days or more after their primary series.