Here’s What the Surgeon General Has to Say About Those School Vaccine Mandates

Dr. Vivek Murthy spoke to Dr. Oz about the possibility of more students being required to get the COVID-19 shot.

Here’s What the Surgeon General Has to Say About Those School Vaccine Mandates

For years, U.S. schools have required their students to be vaccinated against diseases including polio, measles and rubella (with some exemptions). But with this current pandemic, there's no hard rule yet on whether students should have to get the COVID-19 shot. And when large districts like the Los Angeles public school system issues its own vaccine mandate for students, a lot of uncertainty — and tension — rises among parents across the country.

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy spoke to Dr. Oz Tuesday about the possibility of a COVID vaccine mandate for more school students. He explained why he thinks issuing a mandate is a "reasonable" step for schools to take. Vaccinating "as many people as possible," Murthy said, is a key to stopping the pandemic.

Vaccine Mandates Help Get More People Vaccinated

"Mandates we know across the board — not just for kids, but across the board — have been a tool we have used many times in the past and they do work to increase vaccination rates. We've seen that in hospitals, we've seen that in the military, we've seen that in schools. So that is true," Murthy told Dr. Oz.

"We are doing that because of a very important principle, right? Because it's about our health, the health of our children," he said.

But Parents Should Be Involved

However, Murthy said that the school boards should be "respectful" in creating these mandates and that parents should be part of the decision.

"To me, that means making sure that we listen to and hear from parents, ... making sure that we understand what their concerns are and that we have plans in place to meet those concerns. And frankly, also making sure we're doing everything we can to root out misinformation about these vaccines," he said.

Vaccine Mandates Help Keep Kids Healthy — and Learning

Nevertheless, the goal is to assure "our schools can operate safely, that schools are a place where kids can come to learn, and they can be confident that they aren't very likely to get sick," Murthy said. "That's really important to keeping our schools going and to giving parents peace of mind."

Otherwise, if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 among students, the classroom environment is affected when kids and staff are sent home to quarantine.

"I mean, consider the profound disruption to schools that we've had so many kids know — my kids included — millions of others who have not been able to go to classes. It's hampered their learning. ... The best way to ending that is making sure that we don't have transmission in our schools, that our kids are at low risk of getting COVID," he said.

Still, Schools & Parents Must Act Together

"Ultimately, I think this has got to be something that parents are involved in this decision, you know, to put these kinds of rules in place. … Governments will make the decisions that are best for their people, doing so in an inclusive, thoughtful way. I think it's so essential, especially right now," he concluded.

Yes, Parents Can Trust the COVID Vaccine for Their Kids With FDA Approval, Surgeon General Says

Dr. Vivek Murthy told Dr. Oz he "can't wait" for a vaccine to be available for his own kids.


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