The idiocy with vaccine mandates for children

The old legal maxim is that everything that is not forbidden is allowed. Many public health experts apparently have their own version of this rule – whatever is not prohibited must have a mandate.

It was less than three months ago that the Food and Drug Administration approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children in emergencies, and there are already discussions about whether schools should impose it, and jurisdictions prohibit unvaccinated children from participating in activities.

California, Louisiana and Washington, DC, have scheduled mandates to take effect when the FDA fully approves the vaccine for children. Los Angeles and Oakland have mandates, though they have been delayed. New York City Mayor Eric Adams says he weighs one mandate, and bills in the New York State legislature will implement one nationwide.

When the FDA advisory panel met in October last year, several experts said they hoped the move would not lead to mandates. FDA official Peter Mark peeked at the possibility and apparently underestimated the irresistible urge of officials in blue areas against pandemic coercion.

The decision on whether or not children are vaccinated correctly belongs to the parents. Yes, other vaccinations are a condition of going to school, but COVID vaccinations will not eliminate COVID, just as Jonas Salk’s miraculous innovation eliminated polio. With the advent of omicron, it is not even clear that childhood vaccinations will do much to slow the spread. On top of this, COVID is relatively mild in children, whereas polio was a dreaded childhood disease.

If the case for adults being vaccinated is extraordinarily severe, it is much less the case for minors, especially for healthy younger children, who tend to be least at risk.

Why, parents might think, take any chances with a new vaccine if it protects against a minimal threat (or their children already had the virus)? Even if you think this is the wrong call, it’s not overtly unreasonable.

The medical news media State reported on an FDA model that looked at the risk of boys ages 5-11 from myocarditis, a heart disease that can particularly affect boys after being vaccinated.

According to Stat, FDA analysts concluded that although “the vaccine may trigger slightly more myocarditis-related hospitalizations in boys than COVID-19 admissions it would prevent in the same population, the benefits may still outweigh the risks, given that COVID cases, requiring hospitalization is generally more severe than cases of myocarditis. “

Instead of relying on parents to weigh such considerations on their own, places like Los Angeles want to hammer down. The school board who wanted students aged 12 and over to be vaccinated before 10 January. Then unvaccinated children would be referred to distance learning. When the school board realized that 30,000 students had not been vaccinated, a number that would overwhelm no matter what dubious capacity the district has for distance learning, it backed it up.

The math here makes no sense. To avoid an unlikely injury – unvaccinated children who get a serious case of COVID – the schools wanted to impose an almost guaranteed injury by excluding thousands of students from the classroom and putting their knees on their education. At best, it’s here to play chicken with children’s well-being; at worst, it is thoughtless and cruel politics in stubborn pursuit of the goal of replacing parental judgment from elementary school mandarins.

Already, about 40,000 students have dropped out or seceded from LA schools this year, and the school board wanted to effectively match that through enforcing its mandate.

The same impulse to punish children whose parents do not want to follow is seen in vaccine passport policies, as in New York City, which excludes unvaccinated children from a range of activities in public places and from after-school programs. It is as if public officials got together and decided that children had not experienced enough social isolation already during the pandemic.

One can only hope that there are enough setbacks from parents who value their judgment and authority over politicians and administrators whose default is mandates over persuasion.

Rich Lowry is the editor of the National Review.

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