In the Name of Parental Rights, Governors Reject COVID Vax Schedule for Kids
On Wednesday, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously to recommend the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the recommended immunization schedule for children as young as six months of age. Schools and medical professionals consult and often adopt the CDC’s vaccine recommendations, which are updated each fall. While the guidance is not a mandate from the CDC, parents across the country worry that this could lead to schools mandating the COVID vaccine as a prerequisite to admission — a step that Washington, D.C. and California have already taken.
Throughout the past few years of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents nationwide have become more hesitant to vaccinate their children, which has lead to lower vaccination rates among young children in the past few school years. Even beyond that, Americans have grown distrustful of public health institutions such as the CDC, and of NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci through his COVID guidance and through controversy surrounding the effectiveness and consequences of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Several Republican leaders across the country are leaning into parents' concerns about their children being vaccinated and have announced their intent to ignore the CDC’s recommended guidance.
In Florida, the legislature has reacted in full force in favor of parents calling the shots. “As long as I am governor, in Florida there will not be a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for children in our schools,” Governor Ron DeSantis (R), a regular proponent of parents’ rights, tweeted.
In a press conference, DeSantis address Floridians, saying, “I know a lot of parents are concerned about that because if that’s on the immunization schedule, the fear is that schools could potentially mandate your child to get a COVID shot even if that’s not something that you want to do.”
“So I just want to let everyone be clear, as long as I’m around, as long as I’m kicking and screaming, there will be no COVID shot mandates for your kids. That is your decision to make as a parent,” DeSantis promised, echoing concerns about the amount of time the vaccine has been around, saying it is unfair to compare it to time-tested vaccines like the required MMR shot.
The state’s lieutenant governor, Jeanette Nuñez (R-Fla.), retweeted DeSantis’s statement in agreement. Florida Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, an outspoken critic of the COVID vaccine, warned of its side effects and tried to dissuade minors and young men from the shots. Before the CDC’s vote, he tweeted: Regardless of what @CDCgov votes tomorrow on whether COVID-19 vax are added to routine child immunizations — nothing changes in FL. Thanks to @GovRonDeSantis, COVID mandates are NOT allowed in FL, NOT pushed into schools, & I continue to recommend against them for healthy kids.”
“In Virginia, parents matter,” Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) stated on Twitter in reaction to the CDC’s immunization schedule, in step with his usual championing of parental rights. “COVID-19 mandates should be in our rear view mirror. The decision to vaccinate a child against COVID-19 is for Virginia parents to make about what’s best for them and their family. We will not adhere to these @CDCgov mandates.”
In Oklahoma, both Governor Kevin Stitt (R) and State Health Commissioner Keith Reed released a statement emphasizing that children would not be required to vaccinate against COVID in their state. In Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds (R) signed into law a ban against required vaccinations for minors, citing the CDC’s schedule as “reckless federal overreach.”
Several other Republican governors, such as Governors Mark Gordon of Wyoming, Spencer Cox of Utah, Bill Lee of Tennessee, Kay Ivey of Alabama, and Mike Parson of Missouri are among many others that have responded in step, vowing that their states will be safe from mandated COVID-19 vaccinations and guard personal freedom, despite the CDC’s recommendations.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) is spearheading public criticism of the CDC’s actions via a letter with several other state attorneys general, including those from Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, and Utah. In Landry’s words, “This action could deny many parents the freedom to determine whether to subject their kids to an experimental vaccine.”
“Given the lack of need for kids to obtain the #vaccines and their lack of effectiveness,” Landry tweeted, “adding the #COVID19 vaccine to the list of childhood immunizations amounts to little more than a payout to big pharmaceutical companies at the expense of kids and parents.”
Marjorie Jackson formerly served as a reporter for The Washington Stand.