CDC recommends COVID-19 shots for kids and adults, sparking uproar over possible mandates

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to add COVID-19 shots to the recommended immunization schedule for adults and children, though it will not trigger school mandates unless states act.

The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices on Thursday unanimously said Americans 6 months and older should get the vaccines, plus boosters once eligible.

The CDC will take up the recommendations and decide whether to accept them. It is a routine process in dealing with diseases, though this vote kicked up a firestorm about whether schools will start to require COVID-19 shots for school.

Federal and state officials have gone out of their way to note that states must decide whether to mandate certain shots, not the CDC.

“Moving COVID-19 to the recommended immunization schedule does not impact what vaccines are required for school entrance, if any,” Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said during the ACIP meeting. “Local control matters. And we honor that the decision around school entrance for vaccines rests where it did before, which is with the state level, the county level and at the municipal level.”

The CDC decision could provide cover for states that choose to mandate the shots in the future. Any new mandates likely would not start until the 2023-2024 school year.

California and D.C. have taken steps to require the COVID-19 vaccine for school attendance, but the rules haven’t gone into effect.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph A. Ladapo clarified on Twitter that his state will not require the shots for school attendance, regardless of the CDC vote.

“COVID mandates are NOT allowed in FL, NOT pushed into schools, & I continue to recommend against them for healthy kids,” he wrote.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra also felt the need to weigh in, saying CDC votes this week were to recommend the shots and make sure they are covered by social welfare programs — not to mandate them.

The distinction hasn’t stopped some people from making hay in a charged political environment.

Don Bolduc, the GOP nominee for Senate in New Hampshire, warned voters that “medical freedom” is at stake on Election Day.

“Joe Biden, [Democratic opponent] Maggie Hassan and liberals in Congress think that they have all the answers on everything under the sun, including the medical decisions made for our 2-year-olds,” he said. “I believe that these are matters best left to parents and doctors. The left is right: medical choice and freedom are on the ballot this November, and I am looking forward to that debate — especially right here in the live free or die state.”

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

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