D.C. lawmakers are considering making it mandatory for eligible public school students to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The law discussed by the D.C. Council on Wednesday could make vaccines required as early as Dec. 15.
The legislation has the support of at least six of the council’s 13 members.
“Kids already have to get shots to attend school, and we’ve got to adjust to make this part of our normal vaccine regiment,” Ward 4 Council Member Janeese George said.
Mayor Muriel Bowser said she’s not ready to require vaccines for all eligible students yet.
“I don’t think I would be supportive of an immediate mandate on children,” she said. “We didn’t have an immediate mandates on adults, and I don’t think I’d be supportive on children.”
D.C. mandated COVID-19 shots for teachers, school staff and some student athletes.
During the virtual hearing Wednesday, the council heard from parents on both sides of the vaccine debate.
“Force, duress, coercion should never be used, such as banning them from school or firing your employees,” parent Matthew Grace said. “This is something, I believe, we are rushing head long [into] like lemmings here. You do not know how this will effect children.”
Parent Scott Goldstein said he was eager to vaccine his child.
“As a parent I can’t wait to get my 5-year-old vaccinated, I hope by the end of next week,” he said.
Parents expressed concerns about the timeline for vaccinations, enforcement, whether mandating a vaccine that only has emergency authorization is legal and whether underserved communities will have access to the shots.
Those are all details the council will have to work out before a vote later this year.
The deadline for teachers, staff and student athletes to be vaccinated is next Monday, Nov. 1.