Why is California Delaying Mandate of COVID-19 Vaccines for Schools

OLDalifornia is delaying implementation of the requirement that K-12 students be immunized against COVID-19 in order to attend school, state health officials announced this week as the nation grapples with COVID-19 vaccination rates- 19 in children is at a low level.

Under the new deadline, California’s vaccine requirement won’t go into effect until at least July 1, 2023, and after full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). vaccines for children, “to ensure sufficient time to successfully fulfill the vaccine requirement,” the California Department of Public Health said in a statement. declare on Thursday.

FDA completely approved the vaccine Pfizer-BioNTech for those 16 years of age and older in August, and Moderna vaccine in January for people 18 years of age or older, but has not extended full consent to younger people. Children 5 years and older can Eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under FDA emergency use authorization; Studies have shown safe and effective vaccines for that age group.

In October, California became the first state to announce that, once a vaccine receives full FDA approval, children will be required to receive it in order to attend school. “The state already requires students to be vaccinated against the viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella — there’s no reason we shouldn’t do the same for COVID-19,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. said at that time.

Read more: Schools can help more children get vaccinated against COVID-19. But history has some warnings

Louisiana and Washington, D.C., have also announced similar mandates and will require a COVID-19 vaccine for in-person attendance during the 2022-23 school year, for those within the full FDA-approved age range. . New York and Illinois now require the COVID-19 vaccine for students at public colleges and universities, but not at the K-12 level.

Meanwhile, 18 states have banned mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for students, according to a track of the National Academy of State Health Policy.

California’s official statement on the reasons for the delay downplays any political aspect, focusing entirely on the logistics of the rule. However, the debate over the mandate to vaccinate in schools is the latest example of sharp polarization over the safety restrictions of the pandemic. According to a new survey by the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs. The poll found that parents of children attending K-12 schools were also less likely than others to support vaccination mandates or wearing masks at school.

At the same time, vaccination rates among American children have leveled off: So far, only 28% of children 5 to 11 years old and 58% of children 12 to 17 years old have been fully immunized against COVID-19. , according to a The American Academy of Pediatrics analyzes CDC data. And some public health experts say school vaccine requirements could be the key to changing that.

Denis Nash, an epidemiologist at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, says the former school vaccination mission is an effective way to increase childhood immunization rates. .

“There is a longstanding precedent of requiring vaccinations at school admission,” says Nash. “And it’s been very effective in getting the vaccine up to the level needed in children for things like measles, mumps and rubella.”

Read more: Set a record for children’s COVID-19 vaccines

Health officials in Washington State this week also decided not to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory in schools this week, after the Washington State Health Commission debated the challenges of implementing it. making such a request and facing vaccine hesitancy in the community while maintaining face-to-face learning, the Spokesperson-Review report.

Even a school vaccine authorization may not be enough to convince even the most hesitant parents about vaccines. Nearly a quarter of parents said they “certainly won’t” vaccinate their children 12 to 17 years old, and 4% say they would only vaccinate teenagers if they were given the vaccine. request to school, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation published in February. Many opponents of the COVID-19 vaccination of children point out that their age group is less likely to become seriously ill or die from COVID-19 — although that happens.

“We have to remember that it’s a public health issue, and it’s a public health crisis, and children don’t survive in a vacuum,” Nash said. “They live in households with vulnerable adults for all sorts of reasons. And they actually contribute to the spread, at their own risk.”

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