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Why schools do not require a COVID-19 vaccine

States already require vaccines to attend school, so why not the COVID-19 vaccine?

HOUSTON — Most parents are familiar with the vaccines required for kids to head back to school, but why isn’t the COVID-19 vaccine on that list?

Shots already required by state

Each state decides what vaccines are required to attend school. In Texas, the shots range from the polio vaccine to one for measles, mumps and rubella. But so far, no state has added the COVID vaccine to the list. 

One expert on vaccine mandates explained that the age restrictions right now are a hurdle: only children 12 and up can get a shot. And since it takes political capital to enforce a school vaccine mandate states are waiting for the shot to be approved for all school age children to take action.

First vaccine mandate in 1850

Vaccine mandates in school are not a new idea. According to Politifact, cities and states started to require vaccinations for school in the 19th century. 

It was key to getting a vast majority of children in the United States vaccinated. The CDC says the first was in Massachusetts in the 1850s to prevent smallpox transmission.

Vaccine exemptions allowed

But even after COVID vaccines are approved for all school age children and get full approval from the FDA and are added to the school vaccine list — that doesn’t mean all kids will get one.

In some states, including Texas, parents are allowed to opt out of requirements for reasons of conscience.

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