ATLANTA — A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meeting this week sparked social media confusion.
A CDC advisory committee voted Thursday to recommend Covid-19 vaccines as part of regular immunization schedules for kids and adults. Prior to that meeting, claims online suggested the vaccine would be required to attend school.
Does the CDC committee's vote make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for kids to attend school?
- The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Georgia Department of Public Health
- Georgia law
- Dr. Hugo Scornik
- Dr. Cecil Bennett
No, the CDC has no power to mandate school requirements for vaccines. The states and local jurisdictions retain such authority.
WHAT WE FOUND
The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meets multiple times a year to review and update vaccination schedules. Such guidance is meant to provide a standard for when to administer important vaccinations.
"[The guidance] informs us of what are the recommended vaccines for children," Dr. Scornik, past president of the Georgia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said. "For example, things that are on that vaccine schedule are when to give the measles vaccine, when to immunize against polio."
However, both doctors and the CDC continue to emphasize that such guidance is meant as a recommendation. The CDC stressed in a tweet that, "States establish vaccine requirements for school children, not ACIP or CDC."
"The CDC has no authority to mandate vaccines for any state," Dr. Cecil Bennett reiterated. "States and local jurisdictions decide on which vaccines are required for children to go to school."
Not only do states make the decision, they don't have to align with CDC recommendations. For example, the HPV vaccine has been on the CDC's recommended schedule since 2006, but Georgia did not adopt it as part of any school requirements.
"The HPV vaccine is on our vaccine schedule, meaning it is recommended for children to get the HPV vaccine," Skornik said. "However, it's not required for entry in schools."
Skornik said it's a similar circumstance with the annual flu virus, which is also recommended by the CDC in the immunization schedule, though not recognized as a school requirement.
As a result, claims suggesting the CDC has power to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory to attend school are false.
Currently, there's even a Georgia law banning Covid vaccine mandates in public schools. That law is only in effect until June 30, 2023. The Georgia Department of Public Health verifies that any changes in vaccine requirements are decided by the governor and state lawmakers in consultation with public health officials.
As a result, 11Alive Verify team checked in with both gubernatorial campaigns to see what they would support going forward.
"Stacey Abrams believes that parents at the local level know better than state politicians about the decision they need to make for their children's health and safety, and she does not support taking local control away from our schools," the Abrams campaign.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp indicated his continued support of a ban on vaccine mandates via Twitter.