CDC Endorses Adding Covid Shots to Immunization Schedule
The endorsement, which does not alter local vaccine requirements for school entry, is seen as a partly symbolic decision meant to convey that COVID-19 “is here to stay.”
An advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday voted fifteen to zero to add the Covid-19 vaccine to the recommended immunization schedules for children and adults, Politico reported.
The immunization schedules—generally updated every fall before going into effect the following year—combine all of the CDC’s vaccine recommendations into one document for states to use as guidance for school entry requirements. They also help guide physicians in determining when to administer several important vaccinations, including those for polio, measles, whooping cough, and tetanus.
The decision to officially add Covid-19 vaccination to the schedule now heads to the CDC, which is widely expected to approve the recommendation.
For school children, exactly which vaccines are mandated still falls under the purview of states, localities, or jurisdictions, depending on local laws.
“The CDC guidelines based on public health are there to help inform those decisions, but those are state decisions,” said Jen Kates, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, per The Hill. “And different states make different decisions and nothing about what CDC did changes that.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Moving Covid-19 to the recommended immunization schedule does not impact what vaccines are required for school entrance, if any,” he said during Thursday’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting.
“Local control matters. And we honor that the decision around school entrance for vaccines rests where it did before, which is with the state level, the county level and at the municipal level, if it exists at all. They are the arbiters of what vaccines are required, if any, for school entry. This discussion does not change that,” he continued.
Advisory panel member Matthew Daley, a senior investigator at the Institute for Health Research at Kaiser Permanente Colorado, noted that the group’s vote “doesn’t represent new recommendations.”
“This represents sort of a summary of existing recommendations,” he added, per Politico. “But I will acknowledge … there is symbolism in adding Covid-19 to the childhood immunization schedule, and that symbolism is that we view this as routine and that we view this as Covid is here to stay.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 28,000 cases of Covid-19 in children were reported across the country last week, representing roughly 13 percent of all new cases.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.