U.S. top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said that vaccinations for U.S. students attending class should be required as the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to bring thousands of cases and deaths across the nation.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease said he supports the vaccine mandates for the country’s schoolchildren.
“I believe that mandating vaccines for children to appear in school is a good idea,” Dr. Fauci said, adding: “This is not something new. We have mandates in many places in schools, particularly public schools. We’ve done this for decades and decades requiring vaccines for polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis. So this would not be something new, requiring vaccinations for children to come to school.”
At present, children ages 12 and below are not yet permitted to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” program, Fauci said that there should be adequate data by October for the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider whether a COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children below 12.
“I think there’s a reasonable chance,” Dr. Fauci said early last week regarding the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna having the “chance” to get FDA clearance to administer these vaccines to kids under 12.
Fauci’s comments came after the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that there are already more than half a million children who contracted the COVID-19 virus over the past three weeks.
As schools start re-opening for the fall, there is not only a surge in COVID-19 cases but significant disruptions already such as a shortage in supply of COVID-19 tests are also being reported as schools are trying to revive surveillance programs that will require tens of millions of tests, industry executives and state health officials were cited as saying Reuters last week.
Some schools nationwide were also forced to delay the start of the school year, and some had to shut down since opening in August because data shows the huge impact of the virus on schools, according to data from tracking website Burbio.
Schools in the South have been affected the most since it is the epicenter of the ongoing rise in coronavirus cases where vaccination rates within those who are eligible are lowest in the country.