First it was all federal workers, and then then all service members of the military, and now a national vaccine mandate is being discussed for all school teachers. Or rather, the federal government would encourage and back state and local government efforts to require that teachers get vaxxed.
This as the debate over making school children mask up is raging, as major school districts like Dallas and others across the nation have said the school year will take place in masks. On Tuesday the US government's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said during an appearance on MSNBC: "I'm going to upset people on this but I think we should [mandate teacher vaccinations]."
MSNBC's @WillieGeist: "Do you think teachers should be mandated to be vaccinated?"— The Recount (@therecount) August 10, 2021
Dr. Fauci: "I'm going to upset people on this but I think we should ... We are in a major surge now as we're going into the fall, into the school season. This is very serious business." pic.twitter.com/valF0YJKoS
"I mean, we are in a critical situation now. We have had 615,000 deaths and we are in a major surge now as we're going into the fall, into the school season. This is very serious business."
The provocative comments came after the head of the American Federation of Teachers issued a statement in support of a nationwide coronavirus vaccine mandate for teachers across the country. "COVID-19 vaccinations should be required for U.S. teachers to protect students who are too young to be inoculated, the head of the nation's second-largest teachers' union said on Sunday, shifting course to back mandated shots as more children fall ill," Reuters wrote of Randi Weingarten's statement in support of a national mandate.
Fauci in his latest comments still acknowledged the difficulty of fighting local governments on this, given for example the current standoff over mandating masks in places like Texas and Florida... "You would wish that people would see why it's so important for people to get vaccinated," Fauci said. "But you're not going to get mandates, centrally, from the federal government."
But Fauci still made it clear that the federal government will fully support local governments that order its school teachers and staff to get the vaccine. The fresh comments are also sure to give local authorities the political momentum some have sought from national leaders to push for just such a campaign in local school districts.
"I'm sorry I know people must like to have their individual freedom and not be told to do something," Fauci said. "But I think that we're in such a serious situation now, that under certain circumstances, mandates should be done."
He had previously explained over the weekend: "You surround them with those who can be vaccinated, whoever they are - teachers, personnel in the schools, anyone - get them vaccinated. Protect the kids with a shield of vaccinated people," in a separate NBC interview.
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Speaking of the "protect the kids" rationale offered by Fauci and others pushing for new sweeping mandates, a recent New York Magazine piece analyzing COVID-19 and risk to children concluded based on the hard data by age group:
First, we should do what we can to actually, finally, process the basic, astounding fact of the pandemic age skew — to try to put aside our reflex to shield children from any threat of infection, to put aside the additional fear we’ve all felt, all year, because of the simple novelty of this disease, and to instead endeavor to see clearly the real scale of the direct threat to kids, which is and always has been minimal.
To children under 14, COVID is less dangerous than drowning, car accidents, the flu, homicide, suffocation, almost anything. Yet we’re taking more precautions against COVID for children than any of these things, putting them in masks 8 hours a day. A generational crime. pic.twitter.com/3Mnn5FzEwS— Richard Hanania (@RichardHanania) August 5, 2021
COVID hysteria and teacher's unions (for the millionth time, the disease leaves children alone), prevented 1 million children from enrolling in kindergarten, disproportionately poor and black. https://t.co/gQxtUw5fQB pic.twitter.com/EOhyIGMYv6— Richard Hanania (@RichardHanania) August 7, 2021