Do Kids Have to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine for School?
Oct 20, 2022
Do children now have to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for school? No! The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recently voted to add COVID-19 vaccines to the routine childhood vaccination schedule. But only states can decide which vaccines children must receive for school. The routine recommendation does, however, unlock several other essential services for children and their families. Read on to learn more.
Whenever ACIP votes to recommend a vaccine, they also vote on whether it should be included in the Vaccines for Children program (VFC). VFC covers vaccines free of charge to uninsured, underinsured, and indigenous children.
Currently, the federal government has been paying for everyone to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at no cost to patients. This is because we are under a Public Health Emergency declaration that provides money to do so. When that declaration ends, which we expect will happen in early 2023, the vaccines will be covered under our current private and public insurance system. ACIP’s vote means all children will have access to COVID-19 vaccines, no matter their or their families’ insurance status.
Routinely Recommended Vaccines for Children are Covered under the VICP
Congress developed VICP, or the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, to compensate people with rare vaccine injuries quickly. The burden of proof is lower than in traditional civil courts to lessen the pressure on those who have been injured. In order for the government to add a vaccine to VICP, it must be routinely recommended for children or pregnant people.
The ACIP’s decision to add COVID-19 vaccines to the routine childhood schedule starts the process to move all injury claims to VICP. Anyone who has gotten the vaccine in good faith to protect themselves and their communities but suffered a rare injury will soon be more quickly compensated.
Have you read:
- Rights of the Unvaccinated Child: The Role of School Immunization Requirements
- Facts About the VICP Program
- 3 Things I’ve Learned Since Losing My Son to Flu
When ACIP routinely recommends a vaccine, they are increasing access to it. ACIP is saying that there is enough evidence that the vaccine is safe and effective for the vast majority of children. Its recommendation increases funding to cover the cost of the vaccine so that all children can receive the vaccine if their parents want to vaccinate them. The recommendation also unlocks compensation for the rare injuries that may occur.
Only states can decide which vaccines to require for school entry. A routine recommendation does not guarantee it will become a required vaccine for school children. For example, no state requires a flu vaccine for school entry despite ACIP’s recommendation that all school-aged children receive one. You can learn more about the school entry requirement process from Professor Dorit Reiss.
So, is getting the COVID-19 vaccine for school a good idea? Yes! But is it automatically required? No.
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