July 2022 President's Letter

Greetings SPN Members!

There have been a number of healthcare related topics in the news this past month that have particular impact to pediatric health. The two topics I have chosen to address are particularly important for our members and are areas where pediatric nurses can make a significant impact.


The availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5 is finally a realization! On Friday, June 17, 2022 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) expanded the emergency use authorizations for Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines to include children as young as 6 months. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the ACIP recommendation the following day. This comes more than 2 years after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and 8 months since the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was approved for children ages 5-11. About 17 million children under the age of 5 are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and Children's Hospital Association reviewed publicly available data from states on child COVID-19 and identified more than 13.6 million cases of child COVID-19. Pediatric nurses can impact the health of children throughout our nation. The public trusts us, and we play a critical role in public health communication and vaccination. With nursing being named as Gallup poll's most trusted profession for the 20th straight year, we need to use this position of trust to educate our patients, families and community of the importance of COVID-19 vaccination for themselves and their children and share evidence-based information to allay fears they may have about the vaccine and its efficacy. COVID-19 vaccine status must be included in our patients’ history and assessment. We must educate parents in our workplaces, schools, daycare centers, churches, and other community sites, and partner with community groups to coordinate and volunteer in pop-up vaccine clinics, especially in underserved areas.


The SPN Healthcare Policy and Advocacy Committee (HPAC) and Board have been following legislation in several states that have threatened or impacted access to gender-affirming care for children. SPN supports a parent’s ability to access specially trained clinicians to address the healthcare needs of their children including gender dysphoria. In summer 2021, in response to the state of Arkansas passing legislation that would prohibit a physician or other healthcare provider from providing or referring transgender young people for medically necessary health care, SPN signed onto an amicus brief with other professional healthcare organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. Our collective actions resulted in an injunction and gender affirming care being able to continue within the state. We also responded with a similar amicus brief in Alabama. In May, the District Court in Alabama granted the preliminary injunction, stopping Alabama from banning puberty blockers and hormone treatments (but leaving in place the ban on surgery). SPN also took action following Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s direction to the state's Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate gender-affirming care for transgender children as possible child abuse. Following Governor Abbott’s directive, Texas hospitals and clinics halted gender-affirming hormone therapies and treatment for their patients and left children and families seeking care out of state. The situation in Texas is extremely concerning as it places parents and providers in situations where they feel their parental rights may be terminated or professional licensure may be at risk if charged with child abuse. In response, SPN collaborated with our amici to submit a similar amicus brief in Texas.

SPN HPAC is in the process of developing a toolkit to provide chapters and members tangible information and content to share with your legislators to advocate for ongoing access to care for parents seeking gender-affirming care for their children.


It’s hard to believe that summer is already upon us! Working in an academic medical center, summer comes with many transitions. At my institution we have celebrated our physicians who just completed residency and are moving on to take positions within community practices and others who will be transitioning to fellowship positions. We are also welcoming a new cohort of nursing and physician residents and fellows. These transitions offer a reminder of how we can intentionally create and sustain an environment that encourages inclusion to help new team members feel welcomed and supported with a sense of belonging to positively impact retention and transition into practice.

Finally, I hope you carve out time for self-care. Living in Southern California, I feel fortunate for our beautiful weather and look forward to time outdoors in nature. I love the mountains surrounded by blue skies, trees, fresh air, and the sound of birds. I also love the beach, soaking in the sunshine, listening to waves crashing and the smell of the sea breeze. A colleague, MaryCay Durrant, eloquently described being in nature as nourishing one’s soul, connecting us to who we are and what is beautiful and strong and good within us, allowing our innate greatness to emerge. My goals for the summer are to make time to spend in the mountains and at the beach, my sacred places, to recalibrate and nurture my soul. Please take time to plan for your self-care and create space to dwell in what nourishes your soul.

Kathy Van Allen, MSN, RN, CPN

SPN President

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