Dr. Anthony Fauci told USA Today that he would “lean strongly toward” vaccine mandates for teachers as US schools begin to reopen.
It comes down to a simple sense of “obligation,” Fauci, the White House medical advisor, said in an interview with USA Today published on Sunday.
Right now, City, state, and federal agencies, as well as some businesses, have started requiring vaccination for their employees.
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.
Already, nearly 90% of teachers and school staff have been vaccinated, according to the White House. But with the Delta variant now moving across the U.S., younger people have been getting the virus, according to NBC News.
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.
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten has run counter to other union leaders on vaccine mandates.
“In order for everyone to feel safe and welcome in their workplaces, vaccinations must be negotiated between employers and workers, not coerced,” Weingarten said in a statement last week. “We believe strongly that everyone should get vaccinated unless they have a medical or religious exception, and that this should be a mandatory subject of negotiation for employers to keep their employees safe and build trust.”
But in a Sunday appearance NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Weingarten said she would support mandatory vaccines for vaccines. “I do think the circumstances have changed, and that vaccination is a community responsibility,” Weingarten said.
“As a matter of personal conscience, we need to be working with our employers—not opposing them—on vaccine mandates,” Weingarten said.
Still, the largest U.S. union of teachers, the National Education Association (NAE), has not endorsed vaccine mandates.
“There are often complex medical issues at play, and we don’t presume to understand them all,” President Becky Pringle said in a statement, according to Education Week.
“Everyone who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated and if they can’t they should be tested on a regular basis,” she said.
But some governors are opposing the mandates.
Education Week reported, “After the governors of Florida and Texas banned local districts from requiring students to wear masks, U.S.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona criticized them in a White House press conference Thursday, saying that keeping students and school staff safe shouldn’t be politicized, Arkansas officials are also feuding over school mask mandates, and a judge in the state issued an injunction Friday that allows districts to institute mask mandates and puts a state prohibition on such mandates on hold, at least for now.”