Should COVID-19 Vaccination Be Mandatory in Schools?: Here's What Experts Think

Should COVID-19 Vaccination Be Mandatory in Schools?: Here's What Experts Think

After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved and authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11, governments have hastily commenced vaccination drives for kids. As of writing, about 10% of children have already received their first dose of the vaccine, well within the target goal of vaccinating the whole population by next year. 

Vaccination of children is well underway, with authorities understanding the importance of vaccinating kids ages five to 11, who make up the largest group of people in the U.S. By immunizing all 28 million children in the nation, new COVID-19 cases among kids, parents, and teachers will significantly plummet. 

According to experts, vaccinating children will save not only their lives but also that of several adults they interact with at home and in school. Stressing the importance of vaccinating five to 11-year-olds, should schools begin to require their students to be vaccinated?

California Announces Plans to Make Vaccines Mandatory in Schools

Several states are beginning talks about making vaccines mandatory. But there has been no official decision made — except for California, the first state to announce that it will make vaccination a requirement for all school children. About 14 states have followed suit, making the same plans to vaccinate kids, especially student-athletes engaged in contact sports.

Experts Think It’s “Not the Right Time” to Mandate Vaccines in Schools

While several states are already considering implementing vaccine mandates in the educational setting, experts think that it’s too early to require children to get their COVID-19 shots. They attribute their opinion to the long history of vaccine hesitation in the U.S., which began in 1885 when vaccines for smallpox were made mandatory in schools. 

While all 50 states require schoolchildren to be vaccinated against diseases such as MMR, Tdap, varicella, and polio, there is only a handful of institutions requiring children to be immunized for the flu, HPV, and rotavirus. 

In light of historical events and the long-standing conflict with regards to vaccine mandates, experts and vaccine historians say it’s not the right time to introduce COVID-19 vaccine requirements in schools. 

According to a professor at the Hastings College of Law in California, vaccine mandates are currently premature, and considering the rate of vaccine hesitancy, it would be best to introduce it three to six months later down the line. 

Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer of Mississippi, has the same sentiments, sharing that vaccine mandates in schools would not be at par with the context of where we are now in the pandemic

Given that vaccines for children ages five to 11 have only been introduced recently, there is a lot of doubt as to its effectiveness and safety, despite Pfizer’s clinical trial results that showed its low-dose vaccine was safe for young age groups. 

While there have been no official decisions on making vaccines mandatory for school children, the best that we can do to protect our kids against the virus goes back to the basics: wearing masks, encouraging hand-washing and frequent sanitization, physical distancing, and most importantly, talking to kids about COVID-19 so they too can understand how to keep themselves safe amid these trying times.

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