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The nation’s capital is requiring all children 12 and older to be vaccinated before they begin schooling this fall — a move that could negatively affect black children already disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Though many school districts have moved away from such restrictive measures, Washington, D.C. mandates that children 12 and older be “up-to-date on required vaccinations before returning this August.”
But D.C.’s city council, rather than a school board, made the decision to mandate the vaccine despite a Council Office of Racial Equity (CORE) report on the legislation that found “enforcement of the bill will exacerbate racial inequity by disproportionately removing Black students from school.”
“This may result in increased learning loss, additional negative social and educational outcomes and in blocking students from vital school resources,” the report found.
Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser has not responded to requests for comment from The Daily Wire on this point.
“Put vaccines on your-back-to-school list,” D.C. Public Schools tweeted on Monday.
“Our goal is that no child should miss a single day of school,” chief of D.C. Department of Health’s Health Care Access Bureau, Asad Bandealy, said at a recent news conference. “And that means we need to get started now.”
Parents and guardians, a new school year is right around the corner!
To help keep kids safe in the classroom, all DC students must be up-to-date on required vaccinations before returning this August.
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) July 27, 2022
About 85% of D.C. students between 12 and 15 are vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to a report from Fox News.
Only about 60% of black students in that age range are vaccinated, the publication noted, emphasizing that strictly enforcing the requirement could cause even more distress to minority communities.
And many high-poverty students already suffered significant achievement losses during the pandemic, a Harvard University study found.
Put vaccines on your back-to-school list. Childhood vaccines, including the COVID vaccine for ages 12+, are required for school. Visit your health care provider, a DC Health mobile clinic, or a school-based health center today! pic.twitter.com/0RS3mHTAJD
— DC Public Schools (@dcpublicschools) August 2, 2022
“When districts shifted to remote instruction, students in high-poverty schools were most negatively impacted,” said Thomas J. Kane, faculty director for the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University (CEPR).
“School districts urgently need to reassess their plans and ensure that the scale of their catch-up efforts matches the magnitude of their students’ losses,” he continued. “If they don’t, we will see the largest widening in educational inequity in a generation.”
The D.C. Department of Health did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Wire.
A Kaiser Family Foundation survey released in late July found that many parents don’t plan to get their child vaccinated against the coronavirus, citing “concerns about the newness of the vaccine and not enough testing or research, concerns over side effects, and worries over the overall safety of the vaccines.”
“Additionally,” the survey found, “about one in ten parents say they do not think their child needs the vaccine or say they are not worried about COVID-19.”
The survey also found that 44% of black parents with unvaccinated kids between six months and four years old are concerned that getting their child vaccinated would mean that they take time off work (or that the vaccine would give the child side effects that would require the parent to take time off work).
Similarly, 45% of Hispanic parents expressed fears that they would not be able to get their children vaccinated at a trustworthy place.
Some parents (53%) even view the vaccine as a greater danger to their child’s health than COVID itself. The survey found that 67% of those whose children have previously tested positive for COVID believe this.
“We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said in mid-June. “I encourage parents and caregivers with questions to talk to their doctor, nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and the importance of protecting their children by getting them vaccinated.”