Covid-19 vaccines are expected to be included on the 2023 vaccination schedule. However, they will not be required in schools

After unanimous approval by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Covid-19 vaccines will now be recommended for immunizations for children and adults in 2023.

This doesn’t mean that vaccines are mandatory for everyone, as was highlighted in a discussion before Thursday’s vote. Members of the board addressed concerns that schools would be required to get the vaccines if Covid-19 was added to the schedule.

“We understand that there are concerns around this, however moving Covid-19 into the recommended immunization program does not impact which vaccines are required for school entry,” stated Dr. Nirav Shah who is a member of the committee and director at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Indeed there are vaccines on the schedule that aren’t required for school attendance in many areas, such as seasonal flu. We respect local control. The final decision on school entry for vaccines rests at the state, county, and municipal levels if any. They determine which vaccines are necessary for school entrance. They are the ones who decide what vaccines are required for school entry.

Covid-19 vaccines are banned from school mandates in at most 20 states. Only California and the District of Columbia announced that Covid-19 shots would be included in mandated vaccinations for students. However, those mandates have not been implemented for the current school year.

Although eligibility for the Covid-19 vaccine has been expanded to all US citizens aged 5 and over, coverage among children is still lower than that of adults. Experts say that vaccine hesitancy among parents doesn’t exist, even though these vaccines have been highly politicized during the pandemic.

The Covid-19 shot won’t be required for schools, but all 50 states have laws that require specific vaccines for students. These include shots for measles (MMR), diphtheria (DTaP), tetanus (DTaP), and varicella.

These vaccines were mandated by schools before Covid-19 and fell during the pandemic.

The 2020-21 school year saw a drop in vaccination coverage among kindergarteners to 94%, below the 95% target that the US Department of Health and Human Services set in its Healthy People project. This is the lowest level of vaccination coverage in six years.

According to the CDC, students who live in states that have stricter vaccine requirements are more likely to get their shots.

Children can be exempted from school vaccination laws for medical reasons. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 44 states and Washington, DC grant religious exemptions, while 15 states allow children to be exempted for philosophical or moral reasons.

The analysis showed that states with stricter exemptions were more likely to meet the 95% coverage goal. The 2020-21 school year saw an average of 96% of kindergarteners receive their MMR vaccine from states that allow only medical exemptions. This compares to 92% who received the vaccine in states that allow philosophical or moral exemptions.

The full impact of the pandemic on children’s routine vaccination rates is not clear. It will take a few more months before the CDC shares data national for compliance rates for compulsory vaccinations in the 2021-22 school yeyearSchools are currently implementing outreach and programming to ensure that students continue to receive their vaccines through the 2022-23 school year

Vaccine hesitancy isn’t new

The best way to correct the decline in vaccination coverage among students is to improve access, information, and outreach. School vaccine mandates are a good option.

Many people are hesitant because of what they’ve heard or read. Dr. Jesse Hackell, a pediatrician, co-authored a 2016 clinical report on countering vaccine hesitancy. “Most people who are hesitant have a free-floating concern about vaccines. It is not common in all cases.

Hackell, who is also the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee for Practice and Ambulatory medicine, stated that a small percentage of parents are opposed to vaccinations, which has remained relatively constant over the years.

According to CDC data, overall vaccination coverage decreased among kindergarteners during the 2020-21 school year However, the percentage of students who were granted an exemption declined from 2.5% down to 2.1%. Over the last 10 years, the rate has not changed by more than 1 percentage point.

About 3% of US kindergarteners – approximately 120,000 students – were considered out of compliance with mandatory vaccines in the 2020-21 school year.

Hackell stated that mandates might not be helpful to parents who want their children to leave public schools. Hackell said that the majority of parents are supportive. They are hesitant or uncertain. They will come around when they feel pressured to do something for another reason, like getting their child into school.

The education system is responsible for the enforcement of vaccine mandates. However, practices vary from one state to another. Although some students may be turned away due to not being up-to-date, most states offer provisional enrollment periods which allow children to continue school if they have at least one shot in the series or evidence of an upcoming appointment.

According to the CDC, school officials might prefer that students remain in school, where they have access to education, safety supervision, and nutrition. They may also work with parents or guardians to get vaccines for their children.

Many states make every effort to ensure that students are up-to-date with their immunizations. They offer vaccination drives and follow-ups with parents.

Hackell stated that he believes the decline in immunizations over the past year is partially due to pandemics. Hackell said that there is a slight disparity in the immunizations received by children who go to a medical home or have their care provided by a private doctor versus those who receive them from a “public source”, such as a school clinic.

Mississippi is a model for high vaccination

Hackell states that Mississippi is an excellent example of how to maintain high child

vaccination rates. In Mississippi, where poverty rates are high, public schools are the only option.

Despite the immense public need and extra resource difficulties that the pandemic caused, Mississippi’s kindergarteners met the required vaccination coverage for the 2020-21 school year This is better than any other state according to the CDC.

Hackell stated that “they’ve done an incredible job at that” and that it shows the power of mandates. Mississippi is one of six states that allows medical exemptions. Only 0.1% of kindergarteners were exempted in the 2020-21 school year.

Hackell said that he would be most worried if there was a steady drop in vaccination rates for highly transmissible diseases, such as measles or polio. Hackell is also concerned about low vaccination rates in some communities.

Schools are public spaces that have some control. 95% vaccination coverage is an intention.

“We know that it won’t be 100%, because some people cannot be medically vaccinated. If you have 95% of the children, it means that in every 30-student school, one child might not be vaccinated. He explained that if a child brings in a container of something, no one else will give it to him. “It ends with one case.”

When it comes to Covid-19 vaccines being added to the CDC’s recommended immunization program, the emphasis is still on public safety and not adding yet another requirement.

“I have had parents come into my office and I ask them, “What are you here for?” And they replied, “OK, I get that. But I’m not vaccinating to make sure your children can go to school. I’m here to prevent serious diseases and death in your children.” Dr. Matthew Daley is an ACIP member and senior investigator at the Institute for Health Research at Kaiser Permanente Colorado.

“It helps that you came to the office because of the school immunization requirement, but that is not my goal. My goal is to prevent serious diseases.”

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