While Florida's governor is aiming for health care workers and seniors to be the first up to get a COVID-19 vaccine, there are still a lot of questions about children and schools.
COVID-19 and a vaccine were the main topic during a parent-teacher association webinar with Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto Carvalho on Wednesday, where it was discussed whether the vaccine could become mandatory for students.
Carvalho told PTA members he's working with three companies to make sure his district has a plan once there are enough vaccines for students and kids.
“We’re beginning to get information about the criteria for immunization for COVID-19," Carvalho said.
Carvalho said the earliest a vaccine could become mandatory is next school year, with the possibility of having the option to get it for summer classes.
"I believe that more than likely, based on some conversations I've had with health officials, that guidance on immunization for coronavirus for children may not be a reality until the next school year. So we will go maybe through the summer months, will be an optional thing on the part of parents, families, but not mandatory," Carvalho said. "I believe that if it ever becomes mandatory, it will not be this school year, it would be at the earliest for the following school year. And again, this is based on private conversations I've had with medical experts, just on the basis of what's known at this point nationally."
Gov. Ron DeSantis will decide who gets the vaccine and when. Following CDC guidelines, health care workers and nursing home residents and employees are first. People with underlying conditions, critical workers, and seniors could get the second round. Eventually kids will get the shot and it could become mandatory for school.
“I think that it's 50/50. Some parents will be all for it. Some parents will probably not," said Fatima Chaiken, a parent. "It depends on when the vaccine comes out. I’m 100% for it because once it hits the market and there already been studies and it's safe to use it on children."
Dr. Natalie Geary, a pediatrician, understands why parents may or may not be comfortable with the vaccine.
“A lot of experts say without pediatric vaccines, we will ever really get handle on the pandemic?" Geary said.
Geary says the only issue she sees is the lack of clinical trials for kids.
“Can we predict from the adult data down to the children? And we don't know the answer to that question," Geary said.
Carvalho says the earliest a vaccine could become mandatory is next school year, with the possibility of having the option to get it for summer classes.