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TUESDAY, Oct. 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Hosting more than 14,000 virtual attendees, this year’s American Academy of Pediatrics conference initiated a call to action against racism and emphasized the importance of continuing to advocate for and being the voice of children. Elizabeth Murray, D.O., of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), sat down with HD Live! to discuss highlights of this year’s national conference, held Oct. 2 to 6.

“With the election coming up, we have a lot at stake for the health of children, specifically when it comes to Medicaid and [child health insurance] funding. A huge and very important focus is on inclusivity and diversity. We know that racism is a social determinant of health and it’s a public health issue, so we spent a great deal of time focusing on that as well,” Murray said.

Some of the top concerns for children in the upcoming election are access to care, child health insurance programs, and preventive care. “We know that children are about 25 percent of the population, but … they are 100 percent of the future population, so we need to make sure we are taking care of them now,” Murray said.

Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, delivered the keynote address during the plenary session. He discussed the importance of including children in clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines once safety and efficacy data have been established. Murray echoed this sentiment. “We want to make sure that children are participating in those studies when appropriate,” she said. While the AAP is not an official leader of vaccine studies and trials, it will provide support as needed.

Fauci also warned that the vaccine alone will not end the pandemic. The need to wash hands, physically distance, and wear masks should be expected to continue indefinitely, Murray said. “The vaccine is a wonderful component of the solution, but it is not the solution itself,” she said.

The AAP meeting also covered how pediatric offices have been impacted by COVID-19. “We have seen the full gamut of some offices that have been minimally impacted to some that have needed to close,” Murray said. Regardless of how practices were impacted, they found creative ways to provide wellness and preventive care for children. Such approaches included drive-through vaccination clinics, vaccination clinics at schools, and staggering office visits throughout the day with sick visits done separately from well-child checks and deep cleaning offices in between.

“Throughout all of this, there has been a clear call that well-child checks, especially for the younger children, must continue, because they are so important to the overall health of the child — not just the vaccines, but looking at developmental growth [as well],” Murray said.

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