Maryland leaders have no immediate plans to mandate COVID-19 vaccine for schools

With the promising news about COVID vaccine effectiveness, many people are already thinking ahead to next year when a vaccine should be widely available. 

It could be a game-changer in getting schools back to normal. That is leading some people to ask if students, teachers, and staff will be required to get a vaccine.

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FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan posed that question to Dr. Jack Smith, superintendent for Montgomery County Public Schools, on Monday.

He said that vaccinations that are in the realm of schools have been a state set of requirements, so the school system along with several other superintendents statewide are asking the same questions. He said that these decisions need to come from the State and the Board of Education explaining what their initial plans will be about what will be required.

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We also asked Gov. Larry Hogan the same question as he visited Annapolis High School on Monday.

Hogan said right now, the focus is on trying to get a vaccine that actually works.

He also added that the state won’t have a vaccine in full production, especially not one that would be enough to vaccinate every student, at least until mid or late next year. 

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Khan also spoke with some parents and grandparents who said that just like any other debate surrounding a vaccine, they are on the fence. 

“The long-term effects of a vaccine are so unknown so I would probably do the vaccine myself but I don’t know if I would want my child to be mandated,” said Peri Lane in Anne Arundel County. 

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“Truthfully I don’t trust vaccinations because they don’t tell you everything that’s in it,” said James Johnson of Prince George’s County.

Khan also spoke with Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

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Adalja said, that when it comes to children, they are not included in the clinical trials and that it can’t be required for them because it won’t be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for that age group.

“I don’t think schools are going to be able to mandate something that’s only available on an emergency use basis,” said Adalja. “They can highly encourage it and I will encourage schools to make that easy as possible for teachers and ancillary staff to get and I think likely, that’s what the scenarios will be.”