Schools Across Twin Tiers Debate Vaccine Mandate

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) With Pfizer recently announcing it’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages five to 11, local physicians are urging parents to vaccinate their child. The move comes as the debate over whether or not to enforce a vaccine mandate in schools nationwide hangs in the balance.

 “If we can get more folks vaccinated, particularly children, I think we can really contain [the virus],” LECOM Dean Dr. Richard Terry said.

He said the Pfizer vaccine for school-aged children could not only keep schools open, it could help dig us out of the pandemic. Still, not every parent is ready to have their child roll up their sleeve.

“Certainly, vaccine hesitancy is more common the younger child gets,” Dr. Philip Heavner of Guthrie Hospital said. “Parents are naturally protective of young children and see younger children as potentially more vulnerable to things.”

If schools do begin requiring proof of vaccination, the hesitancy from parents could create a problem in the future.

“We require other vaccinations, you know, diphtheria, tetanus, it’s all required,” Dr. Terry said. “At some point, I don’t see how that cannot be a mandate.”

Schools can enforce a vaccine mandate as long as the vaccine is fully approved by the FDA.

A recent poll from the Associated Press showed nearly 60-percent of American’s support vaccination requirements for teachers. 55-percent believed eligible students should also be required to get the shot.

18 News reached out to school districts across the Twin Tiers to ask whether they would require proof of vaccination now or in the future.

Hornell City School District said they will neither encourage or discourage their students form getting the shot, though they will help provide access to it.

Elmira City School told 18 News they will not require the vaccine at this time.

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