|Education secretary backs mandatory school COVID vaccines|
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Thursday he supports mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for older teenagers, saying vaccines are critical to keeping students in school and that governors, not school superintendents, should implement such mandates. “I wholeheartedly support it,” he said. “It’s the best tool that we have to safely reopen schools and keep them open. We don’t want to have the yo-yo effect that many districts had last year, and we can prevent that by getting vaccinated.” Mr. Cardona pointed to the effectiveness of the measles vaccine, which is required for children in childcare or public schools in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., in protecting against infections as reason why the coronavirus vaccine should be mandatory for schoolchildren. “There’s a reason why we’re not talking about measles today,” he noted. “It was a required vaccination, and we put it behind us. So I do believe at this point we need to be moving forward.” Meanwhile, a federal vaccine advisory committee has voted against recommending a booster shot for essential workers, including K-12 school staff. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee on immunization practices voted yesterday to recommend a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 65 and older and those ages 50 and older with underlying medical conditions; however, it declined to recommend that adults younger than 65 who live or work in settings where the burden of COVID-19 infection and risk of transmission are high, including schools, receive a booster dose based on an assessment of their individual benefit and risk, which typically means a conversation with their doctor. Committee members were concerned that there were no clear data yet showing that healthy adults needed a booster shot, regardless of their occupation. Opening the door to allowing millions of essential workers to get a booster shot would be complicated, they said, and it wouldn’t make a significant dent in curbing the pandemic.