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Will the vaccine be mandated for school entry?

Posted at 7:33 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 19:33:07-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It’s a question on the minds of many parents in Western New York. Will the COVID-19 vaccine be a required immunization for school aged children? If you ask many pediatricians and healthcare providers—the answer is yes.

“I anticipate there will b e a mandate requiring it for attendance at schools,” said Dr. Kathleen Grisanti, Owner and Medical Director of Pediatric & Adolescent Urgent Care of WNY. “Schools are just going to be another arena for it, and if you choose not to, I think you’re going to be looking at homeschooling and things like that.”

Right now, the COVID-19 vaccine is FDA approved for adults 16 and up. The vaccine for 12-15 year-olds has received emergency use authorization, and it’s expected by the first week in November, children as young as 5 could receive the vaccine.

There are several vaccines according to the New York Department of Health that are required for students to attend school including:

  • Diphtheria and Tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine and Pertussis vaccine 
  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine (MMR)
  • Polio vaccine
  • (Chickenpox) vaccine

“I don’t think parents should look at this as anything different,” Dr. Grisanti said.

Wednesday, Governor Kathy Hochul said we’re not there with a school mandate yet.

“First with respect to children, my default position is to trust the parents to do the right thing. As soon as that's available, we'll be monitoring after a few months how effective it has been to ask parents to do something that they certainly did for their children before they even entered kindergarten, that they made sure that they are vaccinated against any disease that could harm them,” Hochul said.

Currently in the state, out of students ages 12-17 67.4% have received at least one dose and 58.1% are fully vaccinated.

“It’s critical that we get as many children vaccinated as we can,” said Dr. Thomas Russo from the University at Buffalo.

Dr. Russo believes there will need to be a mandate to get kids vaccinated.

“There will be parents reluctant to get their children vaccinated, and if it takes a mandate to do it, so be it,” he said.

Dr. Russo says this to parents who are fearful of long-term vaccine effects.

“In the history of vaccination, all adverse effects have happened during the first several months, so I do not think that is a valid concern for not getting vaccinated,” Dr. Russo said.