In the 2022 legislative session, lawmakers passed a new law that prohibits state, local governments from mandating the vaccine.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted unanimously to add the COVID-19 vaccination to the recommendation schedule for school children.
The recommendation will now go directly to the CDC where it is expected that officials there will sign off on it.
Currently, the childhood vaccine recommendations suggest the vaccine for children 6 months and up. This includes boosters when they are eligible to receive them.
CDC vaccine recommendations are merely recommendations. It is left up to each individual state and local jurisdiction as to what vaccinations are required in order for a child to attend public school.
Prior to this recommendation, during the 2022 Legislative session, Mississippi lawmakers passed a law, HB 1509, that would prohibit state and local governments from mandating the vaccine. According to State Senator Angela Hill, this would also apply to school children.
“I discussed this issue with Lt. Governor Hosemann’s staff when HB 1509 came over from the House. The legislature agreed on the language that the COVID shot cannot be required for school attendance or any other similar situation in the conference report for HB 1509,” said Hill on the legislation. “It also guarantees a religious exemption from the COVID shot for employees both public and private. It’s not a true vaccine anyway. It doesn’t prevent transmission.”
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Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves also affirmed on Twitter that under his leadership, the state will not be adhering to this recommendation.
“The CDC is stubbornly making a terrible mistake, which could require parents in many schools to give their children the new COVID vaccines,” Reeves tweeted Tuesday. “That will not happen in Mississippi on my watch. It is not comparable to decades-old, proven vaccines against deadlier diseases.”
The CDC is stubbornly making a terrible mistake, which could require parents in many schools to give their children the new COVID vaccines. That will not happen in Mississippi on my watch. It is not comparable to decades-old, proven vaccines against deadlier diseases.
— Governor Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) October 25, 2022
States can choose whether or not to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the required vaccines for school children but are not mandated to do so. According to the CDC, not all states follow the recommendations to the letter.
For example, the HPV vaccine was recommended for the schedule in 2006, but only a few states and territories adopted that recommendation.
Currently, Mississippi requires school age children to receive DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis) MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), Polio, Varicella, and Hep B vaccines but does not require HPV, Hep A, or Meningitis.
The state allows for medical exemptions but not exemptions based on religious of philosophical beliefs, according to the CDC.
Required vaccinations to attend public school first began in 1855 in Massachusetts. This was the first state to require that children have a smallpox vaccine before going to school to prevent the spread of smallpox. In the 1970’s, a vaccination initiative began in order to increase the number of vaccinated children to 90%. By 1998-1999, all but four U.S. states had vaccine mandates in place for students entering public kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the Mayo Clinic.