As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted to add the COVID-19 vaccine to children’s recommended list of vaccines for pediatricians, many states are rejecting the recommendation.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) unanimously decided on Thursday to add COVID-19 shots to children’s immunization schedule, which some schools and states use to create their vaccination requirements. Many states, however, have laws in place that prohibit schools from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students.
In Wyoming, the Wyoming Department of Health said it will not be adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the school vaccine schedule following the CDC recommendations, according to the Cowboy State Daily.
Republican Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon’s office reinforced the decision, announcing that the state would not be listening to the guidance by the CDC.
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“Wyoming has no plans to pursue adding COVID vaccine to its required (school) list,” Gordon’s spokesman Michael Pearlman told the Cowboy State Daily. “The governor has not mandated vaccines for adults or children, and believes that COVID-19 vaccination is a personal choice.”
Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced in a Thursday tweet that the state would not be taking the CDC’s guidance, citing the state’s laws against such a measure.
In July 2022, an Iowa law went into effect exempting students in K-12 schools from vaccine requirements until 2029, the Des Moines Register reported.
“Regardless of what the CDC says, as long as I am governor, we will never force kids to get a COVID vaccine to go to school,” Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt wrote in a Thursday tweet.
In Oklahoma, Stitt signed SB 658 into law in 2021 which prohibits schools from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine to attend the school.
In Montana, HB 702 prohibits discrimination based on one’s vaccination status and applies to all “educational opportunities,” the National Academy For State Health Policy (NAFSHP) stated.
Indiana law prohibits public school districts from requiring students, employees and parents from showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
West Virginia law says any state entity cannot require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter or utilize services, NAFSHP showed. South Carolina law prohibits school districts from requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for student attendance.
When asked for comment, the office of Republican South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster referred the DCNF to McMaster’s Friday tweet.
“There’s some confusion on the CDC COVID-19 vaccine recommendations,” McMaster wrote. “Let me clarify. As long as I am governor, I will never let the federal government – or anyone else – force the COVID-19 vaccine on South Carolina school children.”
Arkansas prohibits vaccine passports “including as a condition for education,” and Arizona law keeps the COVID-19 vaccine from being required in order to attend the school, NAFSHP stated.
Georgia prohibits any school district from requiring the vaccine to receive an education, according to NAFSHP. In Mississippi, schools are prohibited from requiring students to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend.
Florida does not allow any educational institution to enact a COVID-19 mandate on its students.
“I know a lot of parents are concerned about that, because if that’s on the immunization schedule, the fear is that schools could potentially mandate your child to get a COVID shot even if that’s not something you want to do,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said on Thursday.
“As long as I’m around, as long as I’m kicking and screaming, there will be no COVID-shot mandates for your kids,” DeSantis said. “That is your decision to make as a parent.”
“The important thing is that school districts are not mandating this choice,” he added.
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“These are new shots,” he noted, adding that he gets “a kick out of it” when people compare the COVID vaccine, which was first available in December 2020, to the immunizations for measles, mumps and rubella that have been viable and proven effective for more than 50 years.
The governor pointed out that “most parents” in Florida have opted against booster shots, especially for younger children.
In response to the governor’s comments, Florida first lady Casey DeSantis tweeted,
“Thanks to @GovRonDeSantis, FL parents will always have the right to make decisions in the best interest of their children. Regardless of today’s CDC action, schools in FL cannot require children to receive a COVID shot. Mamas can count on @GovRonDeSantis.”