WASHINGTON— In anticipation of the US Food and Drug Administration’s independent advisory committee meeting on October 26 and the Center for Disease Control’s independent advisory committee meeting on November 2-3, the National Education Association enthusiastically welcomes the granting of emergency use authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, if approved, for 5-to-11-year-olds. The vaccine has already received emergency authorization in the United States for those aged 12 to 15 and full FDA approval for those 16 and older.
The following can be attributed to NEA President Becky Pringle.
“Approval of the vaccine for children 5-to-11 years old will be yet another critical moment in our journey out of this COVID-19 pandemic. NEA welcomes what this means for our younger students, and in turn, for school communities. If approved, we will be another step closer to making our schools the healthiest and safest places possible for our students and educators.
"This good news would also mean a return of extracurricular activities—theater, chorus, indoor or close-contact sports—that may have been restricted among the 5-11 age group. These activities are so valuable for emotional, mental and physical health. And it also means that the family gatherings, which we all have missed, can be more safely resumed—just in time for the holiday season.
“NEA will continue to work to ensure the vaccine is readily available and accessible to all students – including our Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities that are disproportionally impacted by COVID-19.
“We are all encouraged by the news that a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine may soon be available for children as young as 5 years old, but under the best of circumstances, it would take months for a significant portion of elementary-aged students to be vaccinated. In the meantime, we need to do more to keep all our students, families, and staff safe and healthy and to keep schools open for safe in-person instruction. In addition to proven strategies like masking, distancing, and improved ventilation, it is crucial that schools develop and implement screening testing programs, with clear and workable policies for contact tracing and quarantining.
“All students have the right to safe in-person instruction. A vaccine alone won’t solve the many challenges our nation’s public-school students and educators are confronting during this pandemic and beyond, but wide adoption will help increase a level of safety for in-person learning so we can provide an education where every student can thrive. NEA remains committed to working together to ensure our local schools are the safest places in the community for every student, educator, and family.”
- Celeste Busser