California is expected to receive more than 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this month, but there are still questions about where the vaccines intersect with the law.
One of those questions is whether children would be required to get a vaccine in order to attend public schools. State senator and pediatrician Dr. Richard Pan said it is simply too early to know, but he said it’s unlikely.
“Unfortunately, we may not have a vaccine available for children by the time we have the next school year,” Pan said.
So far, the vaccines the FDA is reviewing have not been tested in pregnant women or young children. More research must be done.
Once approved by the FDA, the first Californians to receive a vaccine will likely receive the one manufactured by Pfizer.
Dr. Grace Lee, professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, was part of the CDC advisory panel that recommended frontline medical teams and residents and employees of nursing homes be the first to receive vaccines.
“We included the long-term care facility residents because while they make up 6% of the U.S. population, COVID-19 cases in long-term care facility residents have been associated with 40% of the cases of death in the U.S.,” Lee said.
As expected, vaccine opponents are raising objections, saying a new partially-tested and fast-tracked vaccine could do more harm than good. Others are just skeptical.
But Dr. Jennifer Tong, Associate Chief Medical Officer for Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, said those worries should be eased by the fact that these vaccines have already undergone clinical trials involving thousands of people.
“What I hear from several friends, colleagues, even family members is that they don’t want to be the first person to receive the vaccine. And my response to that is, ‘Thank goodness, you won’t have to be the first,’ because we’ve had people who have volunteered to be the first as part of these clinical trials who have been closely monitored,” she said.
Pan said the public needs to know there may be side effects.
“I think it’s very important we’re very transparent with people about what to expect from the vaccine,” he said. “There have been indications that the vaccine does have some temporary side effects like fever or some other symptoms that go away.”