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Bill Requiring COVID Vaccine To Attend School Introduced

P-J file photo

Pending federal approval, a new bill in the state Legislature adds a COVID-19 vaccination to those required for children to attend public and private schools.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-Bronx, has introduced A.8378 in the state Assembly requiring the state Health Commissioner to develop and supervise a COVID-19 immunization program for schools. School children are already required to be vaccinated against polio, mumps, measles, diphtheria, rubella, varicella, Haemophilus influenzae type b, pertussis, tetanus, pneumococcal disease, meningococcal disease and hepatitis b.

The legislation proposed by Dinowitz requires federal government approval of childhood COVID-19 vacicnes and requires the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to add the COVID-19 vaccine to its recommended immunization schedules before taking effect. It would also allow medically necessary exemptions, but not religious exemptions.

“As the Delta variant of COVID-19 contributes to increasing infectionsrates in New York and across the country heading into the 2021-2022school year, New Yorkers aged 12-15 are the least vaccinated age cohort,with only 37.3% having completed a vaccine series and less than halfhaving received at least one dose of the series as of August 16, 2021,” Dinowitz wrote in his legislative justification. “The implementation schedule of this legislation will ensure that there is a smooth and predictable transition period into the mandate forstudents, parents, and school administrators once a safe and effectivevaccine against COVID-19 has been approved by the FDA and recommended byACIP.”

According to WNYT, who asked Hochul over the weekend about childhood vaccinations for school children, the governor’s mind isn’t made up yet on the issue.

“I will hold judgement on that very question right now,” she said. “I want to make sure everyone does the right thing. They have the tools they need, they have the vaccines, but if it turns out that we see an increase in cases and people aren’t compliant…I’m going to keep all options on the table for sure.”

The Associated Press reported Monday that Moderna officials have said a low dose of COVID-19 vaccine is safe and appears to work in 6- to 11-year-olds, as the manufacturer joins its rival Pfizer in moving toward expanding shots to children. Moderna hasn’t yet gotten the go-ahead to offer its vaccine to teens but is studying lower doses in younger children while it waits. The study was too small to spot any extremely rare side effects, such as heart inflammation that sometimes occurs after either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, mostly among young men.

According to the Associated Press, Pfizer’s kid-size vaccine doses are closer to widespread use. They are undergoing evaluation by the Food and Drug Administration for youngsters in nearly the same age group, 5 to 11, and could be available by early November. The company’s vaccine already is authorized for anyone 12 or older.

But the U.S. is expected to begin vaccinating children under 12 sometime next month, if the FDA clears low doses of the Pfizer vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds. Pfizer reported last week that its kid-size doses proved nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in that age group, even as the extra-contagious delta variant was spreading widely.

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