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Could Schools Eventually Require Coronavirus Vaccines?

Schools typically mandate vaccines that protect against highly contagious diseases. The coronavirus spreads easily, but experts say more data is needed to determine whether new vaccines are safe and effective in kids.
Schools typically mandate vaccines that protect against highly contagious diseases. The coronavirus spreads easily, but experts say more data is needed to determine whether new vaccines are safe and effective in kids.

Schools typically have a list of vaccines students are required to get before coming to class, preventing illnesses like the measles or chicken pox. Could a coronavirus vaccine join the group in the future?

Dr. Marissa Levine, professor with the University of South Florida's College of Public Health, says maybe.

The coronavirus can spread from person to person easily, which Levine said is an important factor when states consider which disease vaccinations are required from its students.

“Particularly those that are highly transmissible like measles – it’s probably one of the most contagious viruses we have,” she said. “Those don’t come under scrutiny as much in terms of having a mandate in schools because an individual who is not vaccinated is potentially a threat to others, and so it makes sense from a societal public health protection point of view.”

But Levine said we need to learn a lot more about coronavirus vaccines. They haven’t been adequately tested in young children yet, and it’s still too early to tell if they will prevent spread on a massive scale.

“As that data comes in, that's exactly the kind of information that should help guide whether there ought to be school mandates,” said Levine. “But I think the approach of public health professionals should always be work first to educate people to answer the questions so things can be done voluntarily if at all possible.”

While voluntary participation is always ideal, Levine said there is evidence that previous mandates for vaccines in schools have helped prevent the spread of other illnesses.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he does not plan to require anyone get a coronavirus vaccine.

Here's the latest information on immunization requirements in Florida schools.

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