The nation’s top infectious disease specialist says getting teachers vaxxed is essential for keeping kids safe this school year
Kids around the country are starting another school year under the threat of Covid-19, and there’s a lot of debate on the best way to keep them safe. Dr. Anthony Fauci says one critically important way to do that is to make sure teachers are fully vaccinated before they head back into schools. He said he knows that idea will be controversial — but that doesn’t make it any less necessary.
“I’m going to upset some people on this, but I think we should,” he said when asked on MSNBC about mandating vaccines for teachers. “We are in a major surge now as we’re going into the fall, into the school season. This is very serious business.”
Like pretty much everything to do with Covid-19 there’s sure to be a heated political battle over the idea of vaccines mandates for teachers — but the momentum does seem to be moving in that direction. Just this week, the largest’s teacher union in the country endorsed the idea.
“No one wants to be back in the classroom with their students more than educators, and student safety is our number one priority. NEA has said from the beginning that we need to follow the science, and evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines, combined with other safety measures, are the most powerful weapon we have against the pandemic,” the president of the National Education Association, Becky Pringle, said.
The leader of another big union, the American Federation of Teachers, has made similar comments. “Kids under 12 can’t get vaccines, this Delta virus is very transmissible, so we need to be in school for our kids, with our kids, but we need to keep everyone safe,” AFT head Randi Weingarten told CNBC. “And that means vaccines are the single most important way to do it.”
Fauci said that it will be on local governments and institutions to put any vaccine mandates for educators in place. “You’re not gonna get mandates centrally from the Federal government,” he explained. “But when you’re talking about local mandates, mandates for schools, for teachers, for universities, for colleges… I’m sorry, I mean 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.”
And as for teachers — or anyone else — who might be holding off on getting the shots because they haven’t been officially approved by the FDA yet — Fauci said that excuse doesn’t hold much water. “There’s no doubt that these vaccines are going to get fully approved,” he said. “This idea about, ‘It’s not fully approved,’ is really a false narrative. It really is. I mean, you should consider this as good as fully approved and get vaccinated.”
With more than 600,000 Americans killed by the pandemic so far, Fauci clearly wants to prevent a new school year from making that number even worse. “You would wish that people would see why it’s so important to get vaccinated,” he said.