Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday called for requiring all U.S. teachers to take the COVID-19 vaccination.
“I’m going to upset people, but I think we should,” Fauci said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We’ve had 600,000-plus deaths and we are in a major surge now as we’re going into the fall, into the school season. This is very serious business.”
But Fauci — an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on former President Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force and is now President Biden’s chief medical adviser on COVID-19 — said the mandates shouldn’t come from the federal government.
“You’re talking about local mandates, for schools, for teachers for universities for colleges,” said Fauci. “I’m sorry. I know people must like to have their individual freedom and not be told to do something but I think we’re in such a serious situation now that under certain circumstances mandates should be done.”
“We obviously have to balance, you know, the discussion that we’ve had now for, you know, over a year is to balance the negative impact on kids from keeping them out of school,” Fauci said. He added that the new Delta variant could put children at risk, urging further steps to “surround the children with people, who if they are eligible to be vaccinated, get vaccinated… if you want to be around children, you have to do whatever you can to protect them. If you’re eligible to get vaccinated, get vaccinated since children of certain ages can’t get vaccinated.”
Fauci also said masks should return, too. “I know a lot of people push back about that, but again, that’s the weapon, if you want to call it that,” he said. “Vaccinate those who can be vaccinated and wear masks in situations in which you have unvaccinated people.”
Already, nearly 90% of teachers and school staff have been vaccinated, according to the White House. But with the Delta variant now moving across the U.S., younger people have been getting the virus, according to NBC News.
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten has run counter to other union leaders on vaccine mandates.
“In order for everyone to feel safe and welcome in their workplaces, vaccinations must be negotiated between employers and workers, not coerced,” Weingarten said in a statement last week. “We believe strongly that everyone should get vaccinated unless they have a medical or religious exception, and that this should be a mandatory subject of negotiation for employers to keep their employees safe and build trust.”
But in a Sunday appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Weingarten said she would support mandatory vaccines for vaccines. “I do think the circumstances have changed, and that vaccination is a community responsibility,” Weingarten said.
“As a matter of personal conscience, we need to be working with our employers — not opposing them — on vaccine mandates,” Weingarten said.