With federal health officials moving to allow children 12 and older to get Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, there's ongoing discussion of whether students returning this fall will be required to be vaccinated.
The superintendent of schools in Needham, Massachusetts, says students in town will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine if it's fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Right now, all of the vaccines are only approved for emergency use in the U.S.
"If it's required by the state Department of Public Health, there won't be an option," said Superintendent Dan Gutekanst. "It's absolutely my expectation that once it is fully authorized, and after we get guidance from the Department of Public Health, that we will require our students and families to make sure they're vaccinated."
Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker said he has no plans to mandate students to get the vaccine. He says his focus is on getting eligible people vaccinated.
"I think issues associated with the fall, what we really want to do is make sure we get as many people who are eligible to get vaccinated vaccinated," Baker said.
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Some parents who spoke with NBC10 Boston Wednesday said they'd be opposed to any vaccine mandate.
"We'll find a different school that doesn't require it," said mom Sarah Keene of Franklin. "I'm not putting anything into my son until there's further studies."
As health officials point out, these studies have occurred. Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock assured parents Monday that the agency "undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data" before clearing it for use in adolescents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Wednesday that emergency use of Pfizer's vaccine should be expanded for children as young as 12.
"I'm glad my kids are younger than 12 and they don't qualify yet," said Jen Hewitt of Dedham. "I think for anyone above puberty it is great it's wonderful."
Other parents say they're all for it.
"All I can say is I will get my kids vaccinated and I feel comfortable doing that," said Brooke Cheney.
"I think it's wonderful. I think it's a step in the right direction to get children in school feeling comfortable," said Nicole Zemel.
Needham's superintendent says if schools require shots, there would be some exceptions for medical or religious reasons.
"The expectation will be we'll be good to go, schools will be open and children will be safe and vaccinated," he said.
Needham is holding vaccine clinics for kids 13 and up this Saturday and then again later in the month.