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Mayor Bill de Blasio's decision to expand vaccine mandates to young children is too hasty, unnecessarily coercive, and impractical. The policy, which expands on Hizzoner's prior rule, forces private companies to require that employees be fully vaccinated to work in offices. It changes the definition of fully vaccinated from requiring one shot to requiring two. And—inspiring perhaps the most ire of all—it forces parents to vaccinate children ages 5–11 if they want to bring the kids to any indoor restaurant, fitness center, or entertainment venue. The mandate for private employees and the definitional change for what counts as vaccinated will go into effect on December 27. The mandate for kids takes effect on December 14.
"I just have a feeling of resentment, of being coerced by a unilateral mandate by an outgoing mayor who has his own political ambitions," says Lisa, a Manhattan mom who had planned on doing Broadway shows and museum trips with her two kids (ages 5 and 7) this winter. "My family has always been fully vaccinated and all my kids have had their childhood vaccines on time as scheduled. Myself and my husband are also fully vaccinated for COVID and we have been since early April," she adds, describing herself as firmly in the wait-and-see camp with regard to vaccines for kids. (Lisa asked that her last name be withheld for fear of retribution.)
"With that EUA [emergency use authorization] designation, there was only three months of a trial period and 3,000 participants in the trial," Lisa says. "So to compare the COVID-19 vaccines to other childhood vaccines…I don't think it's accurate." She notes that the vaccine for polio was tested on 1 million kids over a decade, and that the two harm kids to extraordinarily different degrees. "Polio was a deadly disease that was seriously affecting more children…COVID doesn't present as seriously or as deadly for children."
She's right about that. Fewer than 700 COVID deaths have been reported among kids nationwide since the start of the pandemic, with 146 deaths for this younger age band.
De Blasio's mandate will be passed down just in time for the colder winter months, effectively prohibiting families with unvaccinated little ones from participating in normal city life. But it's not just that it will make it impossible for some families to go out together; such extracurriculars as sports, orchestra, and dance have been instructed to require that kids in this age group be vaccinated or else be thrown out of their after-school activities—those same ones they took an involuntary, collective hiatus from for much of 2020.
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