- Anthony Fauci told USA Today he’d “absolutely lean strongly toward” vaccine mandates for teachers.
- Children, many of whom are too young to be vaccinated, are returning to school.
- The second-largest teachers’ union has endorsed vaccine mandates, but the largest one has not.
Those who are responsible for another person, “be that the development of a child in a school or in my position as a physician who still sees patients,” have an obligation to protect their safety and health, Fauci, the White House medical advisor, said in an interview with USA Today published on Sunday.
“Therefore, I absolutely lean strongly toward when people are in those positions, if they don’t want to get vaccinated, I would mandate that they get vaccinated,” Fauci said.
Even without a mandate, almost 90% of educators and school staffers are vaccinated, according to the White House.
But as the Delta variant tears through the US, cases among younger people have increased. Though the risk of severe disease is much lower among children than adults, experts are concerned about the long-term effects of COVID-19 in children.
There are concerns about how the Delta variant will affect the new school year, as elementary-school-aged children are too young to get the vaccine, and some states ignore the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance about wearing masks in schools.
Teachers’ unions are divided about vaccine mandates
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers’ union in the US, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Thursday that she would support vaccine mandates, walking back the union’s previous position.
“I do think the circumstances have changed and that vaccination is a community responsibility,” Weingarten told NBC’s Chuck Todd.
The US’s largest union of teachers, the National Education Association, has not endorsed vaccine mandates.
“There are often complex medical issues at play, and we don’t presume to understand them all,” the NEA’s president, Becky Pringle, said in a statement, Education Week reported on Thursday.
“Everyone who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated and if they can’t, they should be tested on a regular basis,” she said, adding that vaccination policy should be negotiated at a local level.