With parents divided over COVID-19 vaccine for kids, could we see mandates here in Michigan?

Posted at 4:40 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 18:15:06-04

(WXYZ) — The CDC Advisory Committee met today to discuss the question: Should children ages 5-11 be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination?


As the experts have decided to make the recommendation, parents are still divided. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 76% say they are concerned that “Not enough is known about the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine in children.”

According to the Farmington Public Schools COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 106 cases in the district this school year. As doctors review evidence and consider approving the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, a big reason they talk about is making sure children can safely go to school. But will parents want their children vaccinated?

"I am excited. We can get back to normal. Keep the kids, keep the grandparents, keep everyone safe," said mother Erin Paulson.

Erin Paulson spoke to 7 Action News as she picked her daughter up from Forest Elementary in Farmington Public Schools.

She says her daughter worries about getting someone she loves sick and will get vaccinated.

"You have the vaccine. You can breathe a little easier now," she said.

"A lot of people are scared. They don’t know how things are going to progress," said mother Liz Hill.

Liz Hill is also worried about hurting people she loves most, her five children, impacting her decision on vaccination.

"It is still a thought provoking thing. But at this point in time, we’re not the most comfortable with it and I don’t think we will be getting our kids vaccinated," she said.

Both moms are in good company.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, about three in ten parents of children that age say they will definitely get their children vaccinated. And another three in ten parents say they definitely will not.

The rest are in the middle.

"Every parent wants the best for their child. If they have concerns about efficacy, we have really good data about the science and the greater than 90% efficacy for this particular sequence of Pfizer vaccines for young people," said Dr. Patricia Wren.

Dr. Wren is a professor and the Chair of the Wayne State Department of Public Health.

She says a big concern from parents is whether the vaccine is safe, and research shows it is.

While during FDA hearings doctors discussed a potential risk for myocarditis, they found the risk from COVID-19 is greater.

"We could generally expect 26 cases per every million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, but I think what is is really important is we would expect to see more cases in people with COVID, as a consequence of COVID-19 infection itself," she said.

"I just am worried that if we say yes, that the states are going to mandate administration of this vaccine to children in order to go to school, and I do not agree with that. I think that would be an error at this time until we get more information," said Dr. Cody Meissner on the FDA Advisory Committee.

Dr. Meissner spoke during the FDA hearing before voting to approve the vaccine for children. With parents divided, could we see mandates here in Michigan?

"There is no effort to make this a mandate in any way whatsoever," said Robert McCann, executive director at K-12 Alliance of Michigan.

He says schools are not lobbying for mandates.

"We wouldn’t expect to see any requirements happen until that next full approval stage has happened," said Susan Ringler Cerniglia, Washtenaw County Health Department public information officer.

Ringler Cerniglia says if there were mandates in the future parents would likely be able to opt out for medical reasons, like they do with other vaccines.

"And then there is also a non-medical waiver process," she said.

The two moms who came to different decisions at this time on whether to vaccinate, agree on no mandates right now.

"I think that should be left up to a person’s choice," said Paulson.

"Forcing it on people is not the way to go about it," said Hill.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services tells 7 Action News at this point there is not a plan for a statewide mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine for any age group. The planning is focused on getting the vaccines to those who want it.