Opinion: State officials consider mandating COVID vaccines for child care and school children

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center questions whether the State Board of Health has the authority to mandate a COVID vaccine for children.

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center questions whether the State Board of Health has the authority to mandate a COVID vaccine for children

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

A technical advisory group of the State Board of Health met Thursday to discuss whether to require Washington children to have COVID-19 vaccines for school attendance.

The session was open to the public, so I was able to follow the four hours of presentation and discussion. That’s available here, with a state recap here. Two more meetings are scheduled for Feb. 17 and 24, starting at 9 a.m. Agendas for those meetings will be posted on a meeting information page as soon as they become available. (They’re not there yet.)

The advisory group is helping the State Board of Health consider whether to add COVID-19 to the list of “vaccine-preventable diseases” for children under Chapter 246-105  of the Washington Administrative Code.

That move is interesting in itself. COVID-19 is not a vaccine-preventable disease, so it is not clear to me that the board has the authority to mandate a COVID vaccine for children. That puts the advisory group in an awkward position, as does being tasked with providing advice based on incomplete information about a vaccine that only some children have only recently had available to them.

The entire advisory process seems set up to fail. The biggest takeaway I got from the meeting was “we don’t know enough yet.” 

Answers from presenters in the meeting included, “I don’t have great information for you there,” and, “There are not any published studies comparing what you’re asking.” It was also mentioned that there are “break-through cases,” in which vaccinated people can transmit and spread COVID-19.

State Board of Health Vice-Chair Dr. Tom Pendergrass was at the meeting and clearly seemed to favor imposing such a mandate. The advisory group’s work Thursday, he said, “reflects that we’re believing that there is a rationale for trying to vaccinate school-age children.”  

Pendergrass and other board members should be worried about the strong feelings of parents and the general public on COVID-related mandates. Those strong feelings are contributing to the growing trend of families leaving public education. A Feb. 4 report from the Washington state Caseload Forecast Council shows a marked decline in public school enrollment, as families opt for homeschooling, charter schools and private schools.  

Thursday’s public meeting started with pieces of sound advice from several of the advisory group members. The very first one was, “Don’t worry about making the best decision, make a reasonable decision. And avoid bad decisions.” 

That’s good advice for the advisory group to heed. Bad decisions are harder to avoid when you don’t have sufficient information.

Two years of COVID-related rules and mandates seem shifting and arbitrary, and many workers and families don’t feel that public officials hear their concerns or care about their well-being.

Many parents are vaccinating their children voluntarily. But the science shows that the COVID vaccines are not foolproof and may pose some risks. Overall, forcing a COVID vaccine on children of parents who have concerns would not resolve ongoing questions or result in the best health policy.

Elizabeth Hovde is a policy analyst and the director of the Centers for Health Care and Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center. She is a Clark County resident.

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  1. Margaret

    WA state, Governor Inslee, Gates, and Pfizer are eager to add covid “vaccines” to the list of required vaccinations for children in daycare, pre-K and K-12 schools, public and private. According to Gates, vaccines are phenomenal profit makers, with more than a 20-to-1 return.
    “Keeping track of vaccinations remains a major challenge in the developing world, and even in many developed countries, paperwork gets lost, and parents forget whether their child is up to date. Now a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has developed a novel way to address this problem: embedding the record directly into the skin. Along with the vaccine, a child would be injected with a bit of dye that is invisible to the naked eye but easily seen with a special cell-phone filter, combined with an app that shines near-infrared light onto the skin…The work was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and came about because of a direct request from Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates himself.”
    COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths by Vaccination Status are tracked by
    Washington State Department of Health
    Page 11
    COVID-19 hospitalizations (12+) from February 1 – January 25, 2022
    Vaccination status Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations (12+)
    Fully vaccinated 7,243
    Partially vaccinated 1,745
    Unvaccinated 26,015

    COVID-19 deaths (12+) from February 1 – January 11, 2022
    Fully vaccinated 1,232
    Partially vaccinated 286
    Unvaccinated 4,104 

    page 13 : For tables showing hospitalizations by vaccination status and deaths by vaccination status, age groups are collapsed to protect privacy.)

    Page 16 “calculations include only the 12 and older population because they are eligible to be vaccinated.”

    (my note, WA state and local health departments have strongly promoted vaccines for children 5-11 since Pfizer claimed their products are safe, and the CDC endorsed Pfizer for children 5-11 on Nov. 2, 2021. WA state should report all hospitalizations and deaths among 5-11 year olds.
    Hospitalizations and deaths Lumping age group 12-64 hides the adverse events in children, teens, young and middle age adults. The CDC recommends 2 adult doses of Pfizer for adolescents ages 12-17 years old. The same day the Centers for Disease Control Prevention signed off on Emergency Use Authorization of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, Pfizer boosted its 2021 sales forecast from $33.5 billion to $36 billion.)

  2. R. F.

    Children DO NOT and SHOULD NOT get that fast tracked vax!!! Esp over a virus that hardly EVER affects children very much!! I’ve been a nurse for 20 yrs (now a nurse practitioner) and I just can’t keep silent about this anymore! Years from now there WILL be many parents that will regret their decision to line their children up to get this vax that has NOT been properly studied!!

  3. Tamiko Shoffner

    Why do people have to continue to die to include COVID-19 as a preventable disease prevention vaccine? Where does common sense come into play? The U.S. Governors aren’t making that decision. When the the state DHHS and LHD are the people fighting to keep there community’s safe. It turns into this political sewerage tank. Did they do that with the POLIO, Mumps, Measles, Rubeola etc.? Stop playing with the very lives that count on you.

    1. David

      I am reading your post as you are for including Covid vaccine as required for kids to go to school. Am I reading this correctly?


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