By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – A coalition of leading Republicans sent a letter to Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Thursday, calling for an end to end the district’s “unreasonable and destructive” vaccine mandate for kids over 12.
Students return to school at the end of the month, meaning only a few days remain to repeal the mandate or put many families in a difficult position. Washington, D.C. is one of few cities to have a vaccine mandate for students.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved vaccines for kids as young as six months old, though research has shown children are much less likely than adults to experience serious harm from COVID-19.
The lawmakers also pointed out that vaccines have been less effective than promised in preventing transmission of the virus.
“As we have seen over the last year and a half, COVID-19 vaccine mandates fail to prevent the contraction or transmission of COVID-19,” the letter said. “In the face of this science, the D.C. Council’s vaccination mandate creates a likelihood that thousands of D.C. schoolchildren will be locked out of learning opportunities this school year, setting these children further behind in their academic progress.”
Lawmakers also point out that the policy could disproportionately keep minority children out of schools since they are vaccinated at lower rates.
“The District is far outside the educational mainstream in mandating a vaccine on school-aged children. According to the Washington Post, D.C.’s school mandate ‘is among the strictest in the nation, according to health experts, and is being enacted in a city with wide disparities in vaccination rates between its White and Black children,’” the letter said. “The D.C. Council’s decision raises serious questions about why a local government would decline to follow the science and instead choose to place an entire population of youth at further risk of academic decline … To assist us in conducting important oversight into D.C.’s alarming attempt to expel thousands of students who fail to comply with a vaccine mandate, we request a staff-level briefing as soon as possible, but no later than August 25, 2022.”
Recent polling shows that the majority of parents are not interested in vaccinating their children. As The Center Square previously reported, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released in July reported that 83% of surveyed parents with children under 5 years old who are eligible for the vaccine are not planning to get their child vaccinated right now.
For parents of children over 5, vaccine rates hover around 50%, depending on the age bracket.
“Parents’ intentions to vaccinate their older children have remained relatively steady since the start of the year with about 6 in 10 parents of teenagers, ages 12-17, saying their child has been vaccinated (57%),” Kaiser said. “Vaccine uptake among children ages 5-11 also appears to have slowed with 4 in 10 parents saying their child in that age group has gotten the vaccine – similar to the share in April. Nearly 3 in 10 parents of 12 to 17 year-olds and nearly 4 in 10 parents of 5 to 11 year-olds say they definitely will not get their child vaccinated for COVID-19.”