Austin, TX--Austin schools are making a push for kids to be vaccinated. Most people ache to return to some version of activity that resembles normal. Kids, who have been schooled from home for over a year now are floundering socially and in their academics. Teachers don't want to teach virtually, yet there are few options until more shots get in kids' arms and the fear factor of catching the virus is reduced.
But is it safe? Plenty of adults still wonder if the vaccine is safe. The J & J pause gave adults more than pause. The vaccine is the fastest produced in history, and we don't know what effects it will have on people down the road.
Forging ahead, the Austin Independent School District releases a notice to parents. As of June 2, masks will be optional.
Until now, masks have been required. The request is not optional. No visitors are allowed in the school building. In a bold juxtaposition, six days after students are out of classes for this academic year, the Austin school district makes masks optional. For the remainder of the year, students continue to wear masks.
The Austin School District is currently working on on-site vaccination clinics for individuals 12 and older. After soliciting input from parents about removing the mask requirement in April, the District decided to keep the mask mandate in place.
The CDC recommends that students continue to wear masks for the remainder of this school year. The CDC says to ABC News:
"Systems and policy adjustments may be required for schools to change mask requirements for students and staff while continuing to ensure the safety of unvaccinated populations," the agency said in its recommendation.
Currently, no child under 12 is vaccine eligible. Yet, parents are put under pressure to have kids vaccinated over the 10-week summer vacation because the district aims for masks optional and students to be in-person for the 2021-2022 school year.
A tall order.
Teachers have been eligible to receive the vaccine since March and many are still unvaccinated. Yet, parents who may be concerned about getting students vaccinated are under pressure to push the vaccine into the arms of their kids to keep so that they are able to go to school in the Fall.
Very recently, children between the ages of 12-15 became eligible to receive the vaccine, but children 11 and younger aren't eligible yet.
In May the FDA expanded an emergency authorization for this age group.
"U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age."
In a statement, the FDA said:
“The FDA’s expansion of the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to include adolescents 12 through 15 years of age is a significant step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “Today’s action allows for a younger population to be protected from COVID-19, bringing us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic. Parents and guardians can rest assured that the agency undertook a rigorous and thorough review of all available data, as we have with all of our COVID-19 vaccine emergency use authorizations.”
In Austin, ready or not, the vaccine push is on for students to be vaccinated as quickly as possible.
Find out who's eligible to receive the vaccine here.