Republicans Vow to Not Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines for School Attendance

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CDC advisers voted on Oct. 20 to recommend adding vaccines to immunization schedules

Republican governors and gubernatorial hopefuls are promising to prevent COVID-19 vaccine requirements for children to attend school.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moves toward adopting an updated immunization schedule that will include COVID-19 vaccines, Republican governors and candidates say the update won’t lead to mandates in their states.

“As long as I’m around, as long as I’m kicking and screaming, there will be no COVID shot mandate for your kids,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican running for reelection, said during an unrelated press conference in Lee County. “That is your decision to make as parents.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, also a Republican, said in a video statement that “as long as I’m governor, I will continue to protect your children, and I’ll fight off anyone and the federal government who tries to force the COVID vaccine on our kids.”

“Regardless of what the CDC in Washington says, nothing changes in Oklahoma, and kids are not required to get a COVID vaccine to attend school,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, said in a statement. “It’s up to parents to decide how to protect their child from viruses, and as long as I am governor, we will never force kids to get a COVID vaccine to go to school.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, another Republican, wrote on Twitter that he has always opposed mandates:

“Thanks to our work with the General Assembly, TN families won’t be impacted by today’s CDC vote. We’ll continue to stand for TN children & for personal freedom.”

Advisers to the CDC voted on Oct. 20 to recommend including the COVID-19 vaccines on the next version of the child and adolescent immunization schedules, which will be published in early 2023.

The CDC still has to adopt the recommendation, but the agency has been aggressively pro-vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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