Comptroller and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Franchot said if he is elected to the state’s highest office young children in schools would be required to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Yes,” Franchot told MarylandReporter.com.
Franchot said he would permit relatively few exemptions.
“It be would be similar to polio, measles-whatever restrictions are on there. But they are relatively limited. I would not have any expansive, kind of philosophical objection. I don’t believe in that. This is a public safety threat. We are going to meet it. And we should meet it emphatically. We need to put the threat of the virus behind us.”
Franchot clarified that the mandate would be contingent upon both CDC approval of the vaccine for children ages 5-11 and the recommendation of medical professionals.
The FDA gave emergency use approval to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children in that age group on Friday. The CDC is expected to make a decision sometime this week. Both agencies must sign-off before the vaccination of young children can begin. Also, Moderna is working on developing a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine.
But even if full approval comes, as is anticipated, should young children in schools be required to get vaccinated?
The state’s GOP lawmakers said that that decision should be left to parents.
“Political elites want to continue to make decisions for families and force a medicine or a vaccine into a child and make that decision that supersedes the parent. I am 100% against that,” Del. Brian Chisholm, R-Anne Arundel, said.
Chisholm, who sits on the Health and Government Operations Committee, added: “It is dangerous. And if they believe in the vaccine so much, then the vaccinated do not need to be protected from the unvaccinated. A parent will do anything for their child or their child’s health. So why don’t we let the parents make that decision on whether or not their child should be vaccinated?”
Del. Matt Morgan, R-St. Mary’s, also sits on the Health and Government Operations Committee. He echoed similar sentiments to that of Chisholm.
“I am not happy to see that the comptroller and Democratic gubernatorial candidate feels that he is better equipped to make decisions for my children and for your children than parents are.”
Morgan said he understands the importance of vaccinating the elderly because they are considered a high-risk population, but that children are not and therefore should not be required to get vaccinated.
“I just find it unbelievable that politicians are comfortable with forcing this onto students, onto children-that have very little to zero health concerns with COVID.”
Sen. Johnny Ray Salling, R-Baltimore County, said mandates are counterproductive.
“There are things out there that you mandate and force. And I wonder about it when you force things on the American people in a way that turns people off. It makes them uncomfortable. I have always believed that you volunteer this. That you make it a choice.
“When you enforce mask mandates, shots for anything, you are turning people off. And you are telling them what to do. When instead you can suggest and say: ‘For the betterment of yourself and your family, you should do this.'” But I would not want to force anything on anybody.”
* Former non-profit executive Jon Baron was the first of the nine Democrats running for governor to call for student vaccine mandates. Baron made that plea to Gov. Larry Hogan in August, saying all public school students ages 16 and up should be required to either get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.