A legislative mandate mandating children be immunized against potentially deadly diseases is already causing chaos. But it will be a big headache for the White House and Health and Human Services officials as they try to figure out how to enforce it.
The mandate in the 2019 Omnibus spending bill that Congress passed last week requires that all unvaccinated children in public or private school districts entering Kindergarten next year be up-to-date on shots and their immunizations if they are to be enrolled.
It also requires public and private schools, daycares and summer camps to maintain that a list of children coming to the school is current for vaccination status.
That mandate is turning into a minefield for HHS officials, who aren’t sure how the mandate will affect the agency’s ability to administer the approximately 46 million childhood vaccines given each year.
Contrary to what the Congressional mandate states, when the requirement goes into effect in just over a month, “all teachers, nurses, administrative staff and parents who go to a school must read literature and get certified on vaccines,” agency spokesman Kurt Bardella said.
The agency has had to rework its schedules to include the pediatric vaccination requirement.
“It has been implemented so completely and in depth that we haven’t been able to catch our breath in some places,” Bardella told reporters on a conference call, arguing that the agency has successfully operated under other immunization requirements.
The challenge is that under the agency’s current system, “anyone can bring anyone else to school,” Bardella said. “That is likely to result in less evidence-based care … people will be handing out fake immunizations that are false, unethical and potentially fatal to children.”
Since 2008, vaccines for weakened and dead strains of “deadly” flu have been approved and made available to doctors and pharmacists, which is what’s currently required to complete immunization paperwork in most states.
Bardella said that the agency is running a pilot program in one district, which will require that the district’s only vaccine practitioner have a doctor’s license, and will phase out the county’s current clinic that provides all vaccines over the counter in favor of the state-licensed practitioners. The district’s administrative office will maintain a locus of vaccination where a valid list of names and vaccination status will be maintained for the entire county.
Bardella told reporters that new factsheets will be sent to parents before the start of the school year, explaining the changes to the state’s information for vaccination status and explaining what the new schedule means for children, their families and schools.