FDA Approval Is A Game-Changer For Schools Requiring Vaccines For Teachers

by Kristina Johnson

Pfizer’s COVID vaccine received FDA approval — which means more schools will feel empowered in requiring teachers and staff to get the shot

Teachers and staff members heading back to school this year could be more likely to face an ultimatum: get the vaccine, or find a new job. More school districts across the country are instituting a vaccine requirement, backed up by the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer shot.

On the heels of that approval, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was among the first to announce that teachers and school staffers in the city would need their first dose by September 27, with no option to skip the vax in favor of regular testing. Several other major U.S. cities, including L.A., Chicago, and Denver have done the same. The states of Oregon and Washington have similar policies, and more local governments are expected to follow.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says the reason for his state’s policy is simple: “We are well past the point where testing is enough to keep people safe,” he said according to USA Today. “We’ve tried it. It has not been adequate for the task at hand.” It’s also the best way to keep students safe, he added. “When you decide to get a vaccine, you’re protecting a kid out there who can’t get it.”

It’s a stance that the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has expressed his support for. “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,” he said in an interview with CNBC.

Vaccines for kids under 12 are not yet available, and while they may only be a couple of months away, unvaccinated children are at risk every day between now and then. According to some estimates, more than 90 thousand kids have been exposed to the virus and forced to quarantine since the school year began, plus tens of thousands of educators as well.

In California, the CDC detailed one case where an unvaccinated teacher contracted the virus and then spread it to 26 other people, including some of her young students. Nationwide, Covid cases among kids have been surging for weeks, and pediatricians have placed a good portion of the blame on the unvaccinated adults in their lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported 180,000 cases among children in the week ending August 19 — that was a massive jump from 38,000 a month previously.

Many people have leaned on the excuse that “Covid doesn’t affect kids” or “children don’t get it” — but the numbers tell a very different story. The best way to keep them healthy, in school, and safe from the virus is to get more people vaccinated — even if it takes a mandate to do so. And luckily, much of the country agrees — a recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 60% support vaccine mandates in schools.