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Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Voted to Include COVID-19 in Vaccines for Children

Taniesa L. Sullivan | The Weekly Ledger News

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Thursday, October 20 voted unanimously to approve the CDC’s new recommended immunization schedules for adults and children for 2023, which adds vaccination for COVID-19.

The recommended schedule calls for children to begin getting doses of a COVID-19 vaccine when they are 6 months old.

After a brief comment period, the committee of doctors voted with 15 members in favor and none against.

A CDC spokesperson told Fox News on Wednesday that regardless of how the ACIP votes, their decision does not alter official policy.

"It’s important to note that there are no changes in COVID-19 vaccine policy, and this action would simply help streamline clinical guidance for healthcare providers by including all currently licensed, authorized, and routinely recommended vaccines in one document," the spokesperson said.

This means that the immunization schedule itself does not impose any requirements on anyone. It can, however, influence how states decide which vaccinations to require for children to attend school.

Critics, however, claim that the CDC's recommendation will result in states making the decision to require the COVID-19 vaccine in addition to others already required.

"CDC knows this will precipitate mandatory COVID shots for many schools and sports leagues," Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., tweeted ahead of the vote. The Kentucky congressman included a screenshot of a slide from Wednesday's meeting that said inclusion in the immunization schedule and the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program "is an important step toward inclusion of COVID-19 vaccines in the routine vaccination program."

After the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously voted to ad COVID-19 vaccines to the immunization schedule Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted, "As long as I am Governor, in Florida, there will not be a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for children in our schools."

Many parents are familiar with the vaccine schedule that includes immunizations against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chickenpox), and other diseases.

One of the big questions on parents' minds now are, will COVID-19 vaccines be mandated for my child to enter into public school in my state?

Parents should note that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendation does not mean that the COVID-19 vaccine will be mandated for students before enrolling in public schools. Those types of mandates happen solely at the state and local levels.

Just as the CDC added the HPV vaccine to the immunization schedule; however, only a handful of states have required it for students who matriculate in public schools. The vaccine mandates happen at a state and local level, so check your state or local community to learn how this will impact you and your family.

Why Is This COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendation Significant?

Should the CDC adopt this recommendation, any updated immunization schedule that includes the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters will help insurance providers that usually cover the cost of vaccines listed on the CDC-recommended vaccine schedule. This distinction is significant as the federal government is winding down and ending its publicly funded program to offer free COVID-19 vaccines to kids and adults.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also voted to include the COVID-19 vaccine in the Vaccines for Children program, a nationalized public health program that offers free vaccines to kids who are eligible for or covered by Medicaid. This addition will open the COVID-19 vaccine to uninsured or underinsured children.

Following a vaccination schedule can feel confusing, considering that there are vaccines for 25 different diseases. That said, not all of the vaccines listed by the CDC are required for kids to enroll in public school. Again, vaccine mandates happen at a state and local level, so check with your state more about how this may impact you and your family.

Another big question parents' may be asking is, should my child get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Some parents worry that giving too many vaccines in a short window can overwhelm a child's natural immune system. However, data from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and CDC do not support that claim. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that kids are constantly exposed to germs, called antigens, and in a typical day, might be fighting off between 2,000 and 6,000 antigens. The AAP also says that a child fights off under 150 antigens in the entire vaccine schedule combined. In short, kids' immune systems are not overwhelmed by vaccines, and it is safe to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the current recommended vaccine schedule.

The current CDC COVID-19 vaccine guidelines say that children as young as 6 months can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. They recommend that all children receive the vaccine even if they have already been infected with COVID-19. The CDC also recommends that people aged 5 years and older should get an updated (bivalent) booster as long as it has been 2 months since their last COVID-19 vaccine.

But solely the decision to vaccinate your child is up to you and your family.

(Combine Sources)

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