NEW YORK, NY – According to reports, during a press conference Monday at Jones Beach, Governor Andrew Cuomo noted that New York may require mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible students in preparation for the state’s move to re-open public schools and move back to in-person learning this fall semester.
This follows the announcement by the State University of New York and City University of New York two weeks ago, with both stating that COVID inoculations would be required in the fall for all students who are returning to in-person classes.
As of now, the emergency-use approval granted to Pfizer for their COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December does not give states or municipalities the power to make inoculations mandatory.
In December 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older; in May 2021, the FDA expanded that EUA to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age. However, the EUA – which is not a full-fledged FDA approval of the vaccine – does not give states or municipalities the power to make inoculations mandatory.
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New York City officials had recently stated that virtual learning options would not be available for the fall semester, leading to Cuomo and state officials considering mandatory vaccination as a solution.
At Monday’s press conference, Cuomo noted that making vaccination a requirement for children could invite controversy from concerned parents, but said that it would be no different than requiring any other kind of vaccinations for students to attend classes, such as for measles.
“You have some people who never sent their child back to school because they were against the vaccine,” he said. “We have to get back to school. Upon the current trajectory, there is no reason why we can’t open schools statewide in September.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is also a proponent of getting kids away from keyboards and webcams and back into physical classrooms.
“We’re doing it for our kids because it’s the best way to educate our kids, support them academically, support them emotionally,” he said. “I’ve talked to so many parents who have done their best to be at-home teachers. They’ve done their best to support their kids. They’ve done their best to juggle work and other obligations. They’re ready for a break too.”