Education Minnesota Calls For State Leaders To ‘Be Bold’ With Plans To Vaccinate All School-age Children
By Chris Williams
Education Minnesota President Denise Specht called on state and school leaders to “be bold” in their plans to vaccinate all school-age children against COVID-19 after an U.S. Food and Drug Administration FDA advisory panel endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old.
“Vaccination against the coronavirus is the best way for parents to protect their children and keep their local school communities healthy and meeting in-person,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “We urge parents of school-age children to get them vaccinated unless there’s a rare and legitimate medical reason not to.”
The decision by the FDA advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues the process toward full approval of the vaccine for younger children. Officials at the FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were expected to sign off in the next few days. Child-sized doses may be available in Minnesota next week. The vaccine has already received emergency authorization in the United States for those aged 12 to 15 and full FDA approval for those 16 and older.
“State and local leaders must be bold in their efforts to make this vaccine available to every student, no matter where they live or how much money they have,” Specht said. “There are serious issues of access in our health care system that must be overcome. Put vaccine clinics in the schools that families are already familiar with – and run buses for families all day long. Require employers to give parents paid time off to take their children to get vaccinated. Consider a state holiday for vaccinating students when enough vaccine is available. All options should be on the table.”
“Almost every educator and parent wants their school to focus on the academic and social emotional needs of its students and put the relentless anxiety about COVID-19 behind it,” Specht said. “The only way we get there is through listening to the affected communities and delivering vaccinations in a comprehensive, equitable way to students, parents and educators all over the state. The process may take several months, but it will be worth it.”
About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO. More information about Education Minnesota is available at www.educationminnesota.org.