The pandemic—and the development of a COVID-19 vaccine for children—states around the country sought to tighten loopholes that allow parents in virtually every state to opt their children out of routine vaccines required for school attendance for religious or philosophical reasons.
Their efforts were met with tense debates about personal freedom, religious liberty, and community health. Several, including California and Connecticut, successfully limited reasons parents can opt their children out, despite dramatic and emotional protests.
As the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 nears likely federal approval, states will face the tricky question of whether and how to require it for students. And the debates of the last decade will inform their efforts.
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I think people underestimate the strength of feeling people have about this at their peril,” said Jon Zelner, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan who has studied efforts to strengthen state vaccine laws.
Every state in the country requires children to be vaccinated for illnesses like measles, mumps, and rubella as a condition of school attendance or enrollment in child care. Those schedules are generally adopted by state lawmakers or by health officials empowered through state law, and they generally follow the recommendations of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel.
In the past decade, lawmakers around the country have focused their efforts on narrowing or eliminating broad “personal belief” or “philosophical” exemptions from school vaccine requirements that have seen surging interest as misinformation spreads about common childhood vaccines.
Some have also sought to eliminate religious exemptions, citing lack of opposition to inoculations from major religious leaders.
As the Food and Drug Administration prepares to approve an emergency-use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 5, states will face a choice. Should they require such a vaccine for children statewide? And, if they do so, will they add it to a schedule of inoculations required under current—sometimes restrictive—state laws? Or will they create a new policy that applies only to the film 2021 stream?
Many governors have said decisions about children’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates won’t come until federal officials give permanent approval to the inoculation for all age groups. Some states—including Alabama, Arizona, and Florida—have explicitly prohibited school districts and local officials from setting such mandates.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly addressed the issue more directly than most state officials when he said Sept. 23 that the state world film 2021 gratis whether it should add COVID-19 to its list of mandated school vaccines. The state’s existing school mandate is one of the strongest in the country following several revisions in recent years that narrowed reasons families could opt out.
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Meanwhile, officials in other states have used skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine to challenge existing vaccine requirements for children.
Responding to federal employee vaccine directives issued by President Joe Biden, Florida Republican State Sen. Manny Diaz said Sept. 23 that the state should “review” existing school vaccine requirements for diseases like measles. He later film 2021 online remarks back after they were met with a flood of criticism.
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