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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says the state government plans to make the COVID-19 vaccine a required immunization for students 16 and older in the state’s public school system.

“I just think it’s really, really important to embrace the science and really it’s also important to not engage in misinformation,” said Edwards, a Democrat, according to The Advocate. “Absent some compelling reason, which I at present have not seen, I fully expect that we will be adding the vaccine to the schedule.”

Parents could opt out their children from the requirement with a letter from a medical provider or a simple signature in dissent, The Advocate said. The new rule would go into effect at the start of the 2022 school year and at first apply to students age 16 and older.

Republican legislators voiced their opposition to the COVID vaccine requirement at a Monday hearing, calling it unneeded and an example of governmental overreach.

“I believe the vaccine should be highly recommended but not mandated, acetaminophen infant dosing by weight ” state Rep. Laurie Schlegel said, according to TV station WDSU.

State Sen. Cameron Henry of Metairie said he received “hundreds of emails” from parents asking him to prevent the rule from going into effect, WDSU said.

WDSU said the governor can overrule the committee if it rejects the proposed vaccine rule.

Louisiana State Health Officer Joseph Kanter testified Monday that 18 children had died of COVID-19 in Louisiana and many others had become sick because of it.

“I can’t think of another disease on that childhood schedule that we’ve lost that many kids from. In my mind, it’s very much in the public interest. But it’s the family and the parents’ decision,” Kanter said.

The addition of the vaccine is being proposed by the Louisiana Department of Health, which has added other vaccines to the required list over the years. In 2015, the legislature added meningitis as a required shot with no controversy, The Advocate said.

Sources

The Advocate: “Gov. John Bel Edwards plans to add COVID-19 vaccine to Louisiana’s required school shots list”

WDSU. “Lawmakers testify against adding COVID-19 vaccine to school immunization schedule”

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