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The COVID vaccine may soon be added to the childhood vaccination program.
If the vaccine is added, all public school children could be required to get the COVID vaccine.
The Thursday schedule for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) committee shows it is set to consider revisions to the child immunization program. Later on Thursday, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is also scheduled to vote on immunization schedules.
It is not clear that the committee will consider adding the COVID vaccine to childhood vaccinations, but the schedule appears to indicate that is the plan.
Every U.S. state requires public school students to receive childhood immunizations, and many use the CDC’s list as a guide.
In June, Dr. Ashish Jha, head of the White House COVID task force, said the data shows that the COVID vaccine protects children.
“Let’s set the record straight, because the data here is actually quite clear,” Jha said at a press briefing.
“Kids are better protected if they are vaccinated. If they are vaccinated, they are far less likely to get seriously ill. They’re far less likely to end up in the hospital, far less likely to end up in the ICU,” Jha said.
However, some critics say there is far from enough clinical data on the COVID vaccine in children for the shot to be made mandatory for them.
“There has never been a vaccine added to the child immunization schedule without solid clinical evidence that it reduces disease significantly in the community. The COVID vaccine in children will be the first. It will be added with no clinical data,” said Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon and professor at Johns Hopkins University.
“Many of us are asking, why even have an FDA? Why even do clinical trials?” Makary told Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, some are concerned about the vaccine’s risks for younger recipients.
For boys and young men ages 12 to 24, certain mRNA-based COVID vaccines increased their risk of developing myocarditis, or the inflammation of the heart muscle that can reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood, according to some studies.
The Pfizer COVID vaccine currently only has an Emergency Use Authorization for children under 12, meaning it has not yet gained full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for young kids.
The Moderna COVID vaccine only has emergency authorization for those under 18, so it does not have full FDA approval for school-aged children.
The Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine is not yet fully approved by the FDA for anyone, but it does have emergency authorization for adults 18 and up.
Children are at low risk of developing severe cases of COVID, which has primarily been deadly for the elderly and immunocompromised. Nevertheless, the CDC has recommended that children six months and older get vaccinated and that children five and up get a booster shot.
Some parents and lawmakers have already pushed back against their local schools requiring the COVID vaccine for children.
In Pennsylvania, for example, lawmakers worked to stop the state from requiring children to get the vaccine to attend school, citing the harm children have already suffered from remote learning during the pandemic.