WASHINGTON—With the US Food and Drug Administration expected to authorize the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 12-to-15-year-olds, vaccines may be available for younger adolescents any day now. Pfizer is also seeking clearance in September for vaccinating children from ages 2 to 11. The vaccine has already been cleared in the United States for those aged 16 and up.
The following can be attributed to NEA President Becky Pringle.
“There is no replacement for the in-person connection between our students and their educators. NEA encourages widespread use of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines are essential medical tools in preventing infectious diseases. We believe that parents/guardians should follow vaccination guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“NEA has joined with numerous education, public and child health, labor, and children’s advocacy groups to support development and distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for children under 16 years old. As rates of infection in children rise, vaccinating children is increasingly urgent both to facilitate safe in-person education and to curb further mutations of the virus that causes the disease.
“We also recognize that racial inequities within the health care system have been exacerbated by the pandemic, including disparate access to vaccines in communities that have already suffered disproportionate health impacts from the pandemic. We urge CDC and other governmental agencies to explicitly recognize the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities, and ensure that vaccines are equitably distributed.
“While vaccinations will certainly make educators and students safer, they are just one part of the solution. We must ensure our schools continue to prioritize other mitigation strategies including wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing, healthy school buildings, and a system of testing, tracing, and quarantining.
“A vaccine alone won’t solve the many challenges our nation’s public-school students and educators are confronting during this pandemic and beyond, and a vaccine will not close the gaps exacerbated by the pandemic or generations of underfunding schools in communities of color. But it will help create a level of safety for in-person learning where we can provide an education where every student can thrive.”
To view the position statement in its entirety, visit https://www.nea.org/resource-library/nea-position-covid-19-vaccinations-students
- Celeste Busser