As American families struggle to rebound from the health and financial impacts of the pandemic, some of the protections put in place to shield children and families will wind down when the Biden administration ends its declaration of public health emergency (PHE), currently set to expire on July 15. We will know by May 16 whether or not Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra plans to extend the current declaration for 90 more days. We hope he will extend the PHE until children are on firmer ground — here’s why.
COVID is still having a big impact on children; pediatric cases are once again rising, and children under age five are still not eligible for a vaccine. Even among those children who are eligible, we are well behind where we need to be, with just 28 percent of 5- to 11-year-olds receiving both doses. And recent data out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, due to the pandemic, 400,000 fewer children were enrolled in kindergarten during the last school year, contributing to lower rates of routine childhood immunizations for that age group.