As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, debates have emerged about whether or not the vaccines should be required to attend school for children who are old enough to get the vaccine. Pediatricians and public health experts point out that several other routine vaccinations are already required in the United States for children to attend childcare or school.
Most school requirements adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine schedule for children, including vaccination against measles, meningitis, polio, chickenpox, whooping cough, and hepatitis. Some states also require vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) and an annual flu shot.
Sara Siddiqui, MD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and pediatrician at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, points to some of the many successes of vaccine requirements in schools. As a pediatrician herself, she fields many questions from parents on a daily basis.
“Parents have a lot of questions, they’re concerned about the speed at which the COVID-19 vaccine was developed and the implication for their children relative to their potential risk,” says Dr. Siddiqui. When parents express concerns, she explains that while the vaccine is new, the technology is not.
“We are seeing an increased incidence of children having symptoms from COVID-19, suffering from long-term effects, and a rare but severe disease after being exposed to COVID-19 called multi-inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C),” adds Dr. Siddiqui. “Vaccinating children against COVID-19 would help prevent disease spread, prevent severe illness, increase herd immunity, and prevent long-term complications in children,” she says.
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