Governor Edwards rejects House committee action on COVID-19 vaccine and will add it to Louisiana’s school vaccination schedule

Today, in a letter to the House Committee on Health and Welfare, Governor John Bel Edwards confirmed that the Louisiana Department of Health is moving forward adding the COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective immunization schedule for populations for which it currently has full Food and Drug Administration approval, persons 16 years of age and older. All of Louisiana’s current opt-out provisions for parents will remain in place, meaning that no child is required to be vaccinated if their parents object in writing.

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and widely available throughout Louisiana. It is credited with reducing serious infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

“I understand that any issue around COVID-19, especially those involving our children, can be divisive, I ask you and your colleagues to work with me to get more people vaccinated in Louisiana. It should be noted that while many diseases on the public health immunization schedule were once both endemic and fatal, they no longer pose serious risks to school-aged children in Louisiana. This is true because almost everyone has been vaccinated against these diseases, many of which are a requirement for attending elementary school. One can only imagine where we would be as a state if the same overheated rhetoric from last week’s meeting were applied to polio or measles. Developing COVID-19 vaccines in time to help us put this pandemic behind us also requires that we do everything possible to add COVID-19 to the list of diseases that no longer pose a serious threat, ”Governor Edwards wrote. to Chairman of the Committee Representative Larry Bagley.

  • Click here to download the Governor’s Letter.

Other excerpts are below:

“First and foremost, I allow this rule to go into effect because it will save lives and help Louisiana out of this pandemic. The facts of this pandemic at this point are crystal clear. To date, more than 770,000 people in Louisiana have tested positive for COVID-19. Unfortunately, we have lost almost 15,000 people to COVID-19 in the past 22 months. That includes 19 children under the age of 18. In contrast, there have only been 12 significant adverse events related to vaccine administration in Louisiana with zero deaths. In all respects, the COVID-19 vaccines have been a historic success. However, we know there have been many too many of our friends and neighbors who have not yet been vaccinated. This includes school-aged children who are at risk of serious illness and death, “Gov. Edwards wrote.

“Second, despite the deceptive and conspiratorial rhetoric provided at the House of Health and Welfare meeting last week, this rule does not impose ‘experimental shots’ on children. The rule explicitly only applies to “vaccines that have been fully approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the individual’s age.” At this point, the FDA has only fully approved a vaccine (Pfizer) for people 16 years of age and older. Thus, the rule does not currently apply to people under the age of 16. It will only apply to people under the age of 16 when and if the FDA fully approves a vaccine for that age group. In addition, in application of this rule, no child will be forced to be vaccinated against the wishes of his parents. The rule explicitly provides that any student can be exempted by submitting “a written statement from a physician indicating that such vaccination is contraindicated for medical reasons, or that the individual or his or her parent or guardian submits a written dissent.” . This is the same exemption that has long been in state law and is one of the broadest exemptions in the country, ”Governor Edwards wrote.

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