At first, President Biden was hesitant to issue mandates, but now he is more aggressive than any other president in modern history to demand vaccination, including in schools.
Understanding Vaccine and Mask Mandates in the US
Vaccine Rules. On August 23, the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older, paving the way for an increase in mandates in both the public and private sectors. Private companies are increasingly mandating vaccines for employees. Such mandates are permitted by law and have been confirmed in court proceedings.Mask Rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in July that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public places in areas with outbreaks, a reversal of the guidance it offered in May. Find out where CDC guidelines apply and where states have their own masking policies. The battle over masks has become controversial in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are demanding that students be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all of them are in states that voted for President Biden.schools. Both California and New York City have introduced vaccine mandates for educators. A survey published in August found that many U.S. parents of school-aged children are opposed to mandatory vaccines for students, but were more in favor of mask mandates for students, teachers and staff who have not received their injections. Hospitals and Medical Centers. Many hospitals and major health systems require workers to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, citing the increasing caseload fueled by the Delta variant and persistently low vaccination coverage in their communities, even within their workforce.New York City. Evidence of vaccination is required from employees and customers for indoor meals, gyms, performances and other indoor situations, although enforcement will not begin until September 13. Teachers and other education workers in the city’s vast school system must have at least one vaccine dose by Sept. 27, without the option of weekly testing. City hospital employees should also receive a vaccine or be tested weekly. Similar rules apply to employees in New York State.At the federal level. The Pentagon announced it would seek to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for the country’s 1.3 million active troops “by mid-September”. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees would be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.
The president traveled to Brookland Middle School in Washington on Friday with Jill Biden, the first lady, a college professor who returned to class this week. In his comments, Mr. Biden urged parents to get eligible children vaccinated, and promised a White House visit to the school once every student received a vaccine.
“The safest thing you can do for your child aged 12 and older is get them vaccinated,” the president told the crowd. “You’ve had them vaccinated against all sorts of other things – measles, mumps, rubella – to go to school, to play sports, they’ve needed these vaccinations. Have them vaccinated.”
A series of new requirements announced this week will apply to those teaching in Head Start programs, Department of Defense Schools and schools managed by the Bureau of Indian Education. Collectively, those schools serve more than 1 million children and employ nearly 300,000 staff, according to the plan released by government officials.
“We can’t always know what the future holds, but we do know what we owe our children,” said Dr. Bid Friday. “We owe them a promise to keep their schools open as safely as possible. We owe them a commitment to follow the science.”
The spate of new cases, driven by the more contagious Delta variant, ripping through unvaccinated communities, is also affecting children, who are currently hospitalized at the highest level reported to date, at nearly 30,000. who entered hospitals in August.
Children still remain significantly less likely to be hospitalized or die from Covid-19 than adults, especially older adults. But experts say the growing number of hospitalized children, however small compared to adults, should not be an afterthought but should encourage communities to work harder to protect their youngest residents.
Christopher F. Schuetze contributed to reporting.