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Tipsheet

Advisory Group in a Democratic State to Recommend Against Requiring COVID-19 Vaccines for K-12 Students

AP Photo/Ted Jackson

A state advisory group in Washington has decided against recommending a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students in K-19 schools, The Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

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Reportedly, the state Board of Health began working through the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students last fall. In the process, it created a separate advisory group “tasked with researching whether a COVID vaccine would meet all the scientific criteria needed to be added to the list of required K-12 immunizations.” The group, made up of volunteers, consists of doctors, public health officers, state and local education leaders, and community organizers.

The advisory group came to a vote late last month with six members in favor of a COVID-19 vaccine requirement in schools, seven against, and four unsure. Consequently, the group will recommend against adding the coronavirus vaccine to the state’s administrative code when it presents its findings to the Board of Health.

According to the Times, one of the group members, Greg Lynch, said in a meeting on Feb. 24 that they “need to keep our eye on the long term of what we’re trying to accomplish, and I think that’s community health overall” and that “we can’t afford right now to create a movement where the call is ‘Go fast now,’ without having a complete picture (of long-term data), which I worry about.”

The Times noted that other members expressed concerns “about a lack of vaccine data for school-aged kids and potentially unpredictable social impacts that a mandate could cause.”

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This week, Townhall covered how Florida’s Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said at a roundtable hosted by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis (FL) that the “Florida Department of Health is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children.” This came after reports surfaced that the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine could soon receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for children under age 5.

The Washington Board of Health is expected to make a final decision on whether or not to require COVID-19 vaccines for K-12 students at a meeting next month. 

Board of Health Chair Keith Grellner told the Times that “they [the advisory group] went to great lengths to go through this information and give us a recommendation pretty quickly, so I think we owe it to them and to the public to make a decision as soon as we can so that this issue is, at least for the moment, wrapped up one way or the other.”

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