Children and students attending daycare, K-12 programs and college in Louisiana will, at least for now, not be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Wednesday.
The announcement reversed an earlier decision by the governor’s administration and the Louisiana Health Department (LHD) requiring students to be fully vaccinated beginning in the 2022-23 school year.
Edwards said he based the decision on the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not fully approved the vaccines for people under age 16.
The governor said his administration will continue to recommend all children age 5 and over get the vaccine, a recommendation the LHD endorsed Wednesday in a news release.
In their statements, the governor and the LHD implied COVID-19 vaccines for people over age 16 are fully approved. However, while the FDA did grant full licensing to Pfizer’s Comirnaty and Moderna’s Spikevax COVID-19 vaccines — for people 16 and older and 18 and older, respectively — those vaccines are not available in the U.S.
All COVID-19 vaccines being administered in the U.S. are still available only under Emergency Use Authorization.
Commenting on the governor’s announcement, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman and chief legal counsel for Children’s Health Defense (CHD), said:
“The science shows this age group is at zero risk from COVID-19 and at high risk of debilitating and sometimes deadly vaccine injury.
“The only thing driving these mandates is the deceptive campaign of orchestrated fear and deliberately induced confusion carried out by reckless and incompetent health officials, their Big Pharma overlords and the gullible politicians who do what they are told rather than conduct their own independent research.”
Kennedy added, “Hats off to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who forced Gov. Edwards to back off this insane mandate.”
Landry in December 2021 sued the governor in a bid to block the addition of the COVID-19 vaccine to Louisiana’s immunization schedule for schools and colleges.
CHD on March 16 filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit, arguing the data do not support mandatory COVID-19 vaccines and it is scientifically unjustifiable to impose the requirement on children.
About 4,700 Louisana parents joined CHD in filing the brief.
According to the brief:
“Simply put, the COVID vaccines have not been shown to be either effective or safe for children. The benefits to children are minuscule, while the risks — including the risk of potentially fatal heart damage — are ‘known’ and ‘serious,’ as the [FDA] itself has acknowledged.
“Moreover, it is undisputed that the existing COVID vaccines do not prevent COVID — at best they reduce the incidence of severe disease outcomes — and hence COVID is not a ‘vaccine-preventable’ disease; as a result, COVID vaccines cannot be made mandatory for school attendance under express Louisiana statutory law.”
Landry wasn’t alone in trying to block the mandate — Louisiana’s House Health and Welfare Committee in April filed a resolution to repeal it.
However, in a 4-3 vote, the committee on May 11 rejected the resolution, allowing the mandate to stand until Wednesday’s announcement by the governor.
According to WWNO – New Orleans Public Radio, only 24% of children ages 5 to 17 are fully vaccinated, according to the state.
New Orleans Public Schools is the only district in the state that already requires students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Because the district doesn’t need state permission to mandate such a policy, the state health department’s announcement isn’t likely to impact the requirement already in place in New Orleans schools, WWNO reported.
Reporting from The Defender.