Can schools require COVID-19 vaccines for students now that Pfizer shooting is allowed for children 12 years of age or older?


Wwith the first COVID-19 vaccine now authorized for adolescents, from the age of 12, a big question arises: will students have to receive the vaccine before returning to their classrooms in the fall?

Like a professor of educational policy and law and former school district attorney, I regularly think about these kinds of issues.

In the United States, school vaccination requirements are set by states instead of the federal government. He 10th Amendment in the US Constitution allows states to make protection regulations Public health.

Currently, all states require K-12 students to be vaccinated against some diseases, although the requirements, including what features are considered necessary and the reasons why students may choose not to participate – vary from state to state.

Who can turn off school plans?

No state still requires students to receive a vaccine against COVID-19, but the way states handle other vaccines and exemptions and how they can change the rules during outbreaks can help us think about how a vaccine requirement might work. against COVID-19.

For example, students in all states may be exempt from immunization requirements if they have a valid one. medical reason, such as a weakened immune system or an allergic reaction to a vaccine.

In 44 states, students can also opt for vaccination requirements religious reasons, But most major religions do not ban vaccines. Some states they are considering rescinding the religious exemptions due to concern about declining vaccination levels and local outbreaks of diseases such as measles. Connecticut he rescinded his religious exemption in April 2021.

Fifteen states allow philosophical exemptions based on moral or ethical issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 2.5% of American kindergartens used an exemption last year, the same as the previous year, and most were for religious or philosophical reasons.

This is of particular importance at this time states also take different approaches to exemptions during an outbreak. Thirty-two states prohibit unvaccinated students from attending school during an outbreak. A handful of states do not allow vaccine exemptions during an outbreak.

What the courts say about mandatory vaccinations

The United States Supreme Court has supported the authority of states to make these decisions for more than a century.

In May 1901, a smallpox epidemic began in Boston. Measures to prevent already known diseases were put in place: sick patients were quarantined for treatment and the city began a free, voluntary vaccination program. In December of that year, the city had not contained the epidemic, so a local health commission demanded that all adult residents be vaccinated under state-granted authority.

The local government fined those who refused to get vaccinated and a man challenged that fine by suing the state of Massachusetts. In 1905, the Supreme Court heard his case and ruled that a state may require vaccination in the country. public health interest.

Today, some health law experts i think the vaccination requirements are important enough for them to continue triumphant claims, including individual religious freedom, while others are more skeptical.

COVID-19 vaccines have a key difference: them they only have emergency use authorization at this time, not full FDA approval. He FDA Emergency Use Statute it says people receiving the drug should be informed “of the option to accept or deny administration of the product,” but also of “the consequences, if any, of refusing.” It remains to be seen how the lack of full approval would affect state decisions on school vaccine warrants and how courts might view those decisions.

In another context, members of the military service may be required to receive vaccines but yes under federal law, vaccines that only have emergency use authorization are allowed to be deactivated, unless president resigns this provision.

Pfizer: the pharmacist whose vaccine received emergency use authorization for adolescents on May 10, 2021 and was recommended for this age range by the CDC on May 12 – has initiated the review process to obtain full FDA approval for use from 16 years. The same review for teens will start later. Vaccine testing is still underway for younger children.

Can schools issue their own requirements?

Because states adopt vaccine requirements to protect public health, school vaccine requirements generally apply. public and private K-12 schools, and also in daycares. Just a handful of states require vaccinating college and university students, so that, in practice, determining and enforcing vaccination requirements usually corresponds to individual higher education institutions.

A growing number of colleges and universities have announced that they will require all students who plan to be on campus to receive the COVID vaccine. Other institutions require the vaccine only for students who want to live in bedrooms. Despite this, at least one state legislatureMichigan – is considering banning state universities from requiring vaccines as a condition for taking face-to-face classes, claiming that a vaccine requirement would infringe on individual choice issues.

This raises the interesting question of whether an individual school district, such as a college or university, might require vaccination of students against COVID-19.

When school vaccination needs began in the late 19th century, the goal was to prevent the spread of smallpox. Around 1915, 15 states and Washington, DC, required students to receive the smallpox vaccine and 21 more states allowed local governments such as school districts and county health departments to impose this requirement.

School vaccination requirements have proliferated over the past century, in response to both specific outbreaks and the growing acceptance of vaccine mandates as a public health policy. Although most vaccination requirements have been issued at the state level in recent decades, whether school districts can be added to the list of required vaccines remains an open question and may vary by state.

It is also an issue that the courts are likely to address soon. In January 2021, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that it plans to require its students to receive the COVID vaccine once it is approved and available. Los Angeles Unified is the largest school district in the country. As the fall approaches, and assuming that clinical trials continue to demonstrate efficacy and safety, we may see more districts follow this option.

Kristine Bowman, Professor of Law and Educational Policy, Michigan State University

This article is republished from The conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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