COVID-19 vaccines will be making their way to the arms of children fairly soon, however, whether or not parents will allow their children to get them remains to be seen. The issue has even made its way as a key issue in the city’s mayoral race.
During a press briefing earlier this week, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she’s been in conversations with the White House to prepare for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, which could come early next month.
“I anticipate, as a mom who took my kids to get doctor appointments and well visits and vaccines for many years, that there could be actually a crush of interest in this, which is good,” Hochul said. “But I want to make sure that the doctor’s offices where I think the majority of parents will get those vaccines are ready for this.”
While Hochul appears confident in the interest of the COVID-19 vaccine for young children, it could be a hard sell. A recent Gallup poll indicates that 55% of parents of kids under 12 say they would get them an available vaccine with 45% saying they will not. Pediatric infections currently account for one in four COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
The issue over vaccines for children has become a top issue in the race for who will be the next mayor of New York City. Democratic candidate Eric Adams said during an ethnic media town hall that if elected, he would look at implementing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for public school children. A similar mandate is currently in effect in Los Angeles.
“I’m going to have all my medical experts give me the recommendation on what we should do to protect our children,” Adams said. “If they say we should mandate it like we have mandated polio, measles and others then we will mandate it.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has not implemented a vaccine mandate for public school children, said Adams has the right to make his own decision about mandates if he’s the next mayor.
“January is a long way away and Eric Adams as new mayor has a full right to decide whatever he thinks is best for our schools and I’m sure he will do what his conscience tells him,” de Blasio said.
Republican Party candidate Curtis Sliwa is dead set against a vaccine mandate for public school children that could result in unvaccinated children staying home rather than being in the classroom.
“I agree with Mayor de Blasio at this point,” Sliwa said. “There should not be a mandated vaccine on children, they should not be kicked out of school.”
Contention over vaccine mandates hit a boiling point last Saturday when hundreds of people gathered in Times Square at 41st Street and Broadway to protest the mandates. The “Rally for Freedom” featured several speakers including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is against vaccines.
“We have no business giving this to little children,” he said to the crowd. “It is unethical, it is medical malpractice.”
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data last Saturday stating that nearly two-thirds of New York State residents are fully vaccinated. Looking further into the numbers, over 70% of residents in Manhattan and Queens are fully vaccinated.