Should the NYS Department of Health Require COVID Vaccinations for Students 12 and Older?

Yes.  Children are already vaccinated for all other vaccine preventable diseases prior to entry into school.  SARS-CoV2 is just another vaccine preventable disease.  All children should be vaccinated when a vaccine is approved.

My last blog asked whether teachers and students should be vaccinated and the response was overwhelming, the response above characterizes the responses.

Mayor de Blasio skillfully stepped around the question for all city employees including teachers. Employees must be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. The NY Times article estimates 60% of school employees are vaccinated, I think the percent is higher for teachers and lower for other school workers, i. e., lunch room, school aides, etc.

The city is setting up in school vaccination for student twelve years of age or older in the Summer Rising program sites.

The question of mandatory vaccinations for students is far more complicated.

The vaccination requirements in New York State are established by the state Department of Health and have been place for decades; most states have similar requirements. The requirements are specific, see here

The Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are being used under Emergency Use Approval (EUA) pending full approval by the Federal Drug Administration, the vaccine manufacturers applied for approval several months ago and the expectation is full use approval in the fall.

Aside from urging parents to have their twelve and older children vaccinated the state DOH has to wait for full approval. A key player, so far under the radar is Howard Zucker, the NYS Commissioner of Health; the doctor and lawyer has a glowing resume and has been silent on the question of adding COVID vaccinations to the list.

The vaccine companies are working on vaccines for children from two to eleven years of age and an Emergency Use Authorization may be only a few months away (See here)

I suspect the city along with random testing will vaccinate at school sites.

The Delta variant has sharply increased COVID + in the city.

Without a citywide remote option how do schools respond to positive testing? Probably remote for the teacher and/or student; the mechanics will be complicated depending on the subjects the teacher teaches; the Department and the Union are working on the various scenarios.

Principals are mulling over their budgets and Central is attempting to put the special initiatives in place, trying to avoid the mistakes of Renewal .

The Single Shepard program, guidance counselors and social workers targeting families in the neediest school received glowing comments from teachers and school leaders; hopefully expanded.

Where are we?

Less than two months away from the first day of school, lots of work ahead, a chancellor and a union leader on the same page, an unexpected Delta variant surge one and huge unanswered question: will New York State move towards requiring student vaccinations?

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