Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Republicans have stoked anger in their base over pandemic cutbacks, masking and school closings. Just weeks before the midterm elections, top GOP candidates are implementing a new decision on Covid-19 vaccines for children in a battle for parents’ rights.
Republican Senate candidates like Nevada’s Adam Laxalt and Arizona’s Blake Masters, as well as Michigan and Wisconsin gubernatorial candidates, on Thursday voted to update the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s independent Immunization Practices Advisory Committee. Recommended immunization schedules in 2023, including Covid-19 vaccines for children and adults.
The panel’s decision doesn’t mean vaccines are necessary for everyone, and at least 20 states have banned Covid-19 vaccines from being included in school mandates. Members of the CDC’s advisory board also stressed that decisions about which vaccines should be required for children in public schools are still determined by local controls.
But that didn’t stop some GOP Senate and gubernatorial candidates from moving quickly to revive the debate over Democratic governance, an issue aimed at reigniting anger among their core constituents as they campaign. they are doing everything they can to promote voter turnout. Almost all of them cited the decision as an incursion on parental rights, which has become a catchphrase the GOP has used to energize its voters on everything from school curriculum to classroom discussion of gender identity. .
Laxalt suggested the decision could “force” children to vaccinate and argued that “the fate of our children has just been decided by a unanimous vote on a Zoom call by 15 bureaucrats.”
“If Nevada decides to enforce this CDC guideline, it means that children can now be forced to get this vaccine in order to go to school,” Laxalt, who is running against Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, said in a statement. “When I’m in the U.S. Senate, I will make sure parents have the opportunity to make these decisions.”
Asked about Laxalt’s comments and Cortez Masto’s stance on whether Nevada school districts should mandate the Covid-19 vaccine for children, Cortez Masto spokeswoman Lauren Wodarski said: “This is an issue that needs to be decided at the local and state levels.”
Masters, who is challenging Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, responded to the panel vote Tweeting a video saying the “experts” are coming for our kids. He also argued that the CDC advisory committee’s decision would make vaccination mandatory for children.
Currently, only California and the District of Columbia have said that Covid-19 vaccines will be among the mandatory vaccinations for school children, and those requirements were not implemented this school year. Beyond that, all school immunization laws provide exemptions for children for specific medical reasons, and 44 states, including Washington DC, provide religious exemptions. Another 15 states allow philosophical or moral exemptions for children, according to state legislatures.
In June, the US Food and Drug Administration expanded approvals for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines to include children as young as six months old. FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said in a news release at the time that he hoped vaccines for younger children would “protect against the most serious consequences of Covid-19, such as hospitalization and death.” older age groups. The CDC recommended vaccines that month for children younger than six months.
But when Masters took on so-called experts — a veiled reference to Biden administration officials — he argued that they had flip-flopped on the effectiveness of masks during the pandemic, as well as orders to stay six feet apart, and the public clamored. they were misled about how well vaccines would prevent Covid-19 infection. (The CDC has routinely told the public that vaccines cannot prevent Covid-19 infections, but they can reduce the risk of serious illness or death).
“In the last two years there has been a lot of misinformation, not from foreigners, or Twitter anons, but from our government, the media, and so-called experts,” Masters said in his Twitter video. The experts, he added, “expect you to make all the decisions, then they’re never, ever going to be held accountable for the results. They know that Joe Biden and Mark Kelly are not going to be held accountable for anything. Look, when I’m in the Senate, when the pundits lie to us, they’re not going to be able to keep up.” giving more orders, they will be fired.”
The Republican governors of Wisconsin and Michigan were also quick to criticize the move by the CDC advisory board – if elected, they vowed to block any move to make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for public school students in their respective states.
Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels he tweeted that he was already listening to parents’ concerns: “The Covid vaccine is new and should not be treated like a more established vaccine. When I am governor, parents, not the State, will decide what is best. We will not order them to go to school. Would Evers (Democratic Governor Tony) be?”
Evers said on Friday that “there is no mandate. There will be no mandate” for the vaccine against Covid-19.
Tudor Dixon, the Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidate who has been heavily criticized by his Democratic opponent, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, for excessive regulations on businesses and schools during the pandemic, used the CDC advisory panel’s vote as a new opportunity to rebuke him. his opponent to manage the Covid-19.
“Parents should be responsible for deciding whether a COVID-19 vaccine is right for their child, not the CDC or Gretchen Whitmer’s bureaucrats,” Dixon said in a statement. “A Dixon Administration would address this government overreach and prohibit Michigan schools from adding COVID-19 vaccines to the required list.”
The Michigan Republican has called Whitmer the “queen of shutdowns” on the campaign trail, making stops at businesses hit hard by the state’s Covid shutdown, while Whitmer has pushed back, warning that if Dixon were governor during the pandemic, “thousands more people would be doing it.” I’m dead.”
Like Laxalt and Masters, Dixon — who has the backing of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Trump — has focused her campaign in part on the concept of parental rights, borrowing a page from the book of Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who won the last race. By channeling the anger of frustrated parents last year, Biden won the state by 10 points.
During a series of campaign stops last month, Dixon, alongside parent groups, announced proposals to ban transgender athletes from competing in school sports and eliminate discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms, similar to legislation championed by Florida Gov. Ron. DeSantis opponents called the “Don’t Say Gay” law. He called on the state’s education director to resign, citing “pornography” in Michigan public schools. Democrats have argued that Dixon’s recent focus on these cultural issues is intended to turn voters away from areas where his positions are unpopular, such as against abortion rights.
In his statement on children’s Covid-19 vaccines, Dixon complained that “liberal policymakers are pushing COVID-19 vaccines on our children and forcing parents out of the process, despite limited clinical evidence to support their claims. For their child I’m with parents who just have the right to choose what works best.’
Perhaps no Republican official running for re-election this year has done more to thwart the Biden administration’s efforts to vaccinate children against the coronavirus than DeSantis.
In June, Florida was the only state to refuse to work with the federal government to distribute vaccines to children after the FDA authorized emergency use. The DeSantis administration also does not recommend the vaccine for healthy children. In March, the state Department of Health issued guidance to parents to prevent their children from “benefiting” from the vaccine, a stance against the larger medical community.
On Thursday, cameras and reporters gathered for an update on the recovery from Hurricane Ian, DeSantis promised to block all vaccination requirements for children to attend Florida schools, though federal officials insist that is not their intention.
“As long as I’m around, kicking and screaming, there’s not going to be a COVID shot mandate for your kids,” DeSantis said. He doubled down on Friday morning, announcing that he had signed legislation preventing any school from requiring students to be vaccinated against Covid. He added that he would not stand in the way of parents vaccinating their children, saying: “It’s a free state. Parents can make a different decision if that’s what they want.”