Miss a day, miss a lot. Subscribe to The Defender's Top News of the Day. It's free.
Schools in Washington, D.C., will require all students ages 12 and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine before they can attend school in the fall, despite warnings from legal experts who say the mandate violates federal law.
The Office of the State Superintendent of Education announced on July 19 that student immunization requirements for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year will include the COVID-19 vaccine for all students who are of an age for which there is a vaccine fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“On July 8, 2022, the FDA fully approved the COVID-19 vaccine commonly known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for individuals 12 to 15 years old,” said State Superintendent of Education Christina Grant in a press release.
“The approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 12 to 15 means that, unless exempted, any student age 12-15 at the start of the 2022-23 school year must have received the primary COVID-19 vaccine series or have started receiving the shot by Sept. 16, 2022,” she said.
“We want to make sure that all of our students have everything they need for a healthy start to the school year,” Grant added. “This means making sure children see their primary medical provider for a well-child visit and receive all needed immunizations.”
D.C. law requires students in all area schools, including private, parochial and independent schools, to be fully compliant with mandated vaccinations, unless they have an approved exemption. The law also requires schools to verify immunization certification for all students.
The requirement was detailed in a law the D.C. Council approved last year and is the first legislation of its kind in the region.
CHD demands D.C. Schools rescind mandate
In a letter sent today to Grant, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman and chief legal counsel for Children’s Health Defense (CHD), asked Grant to rescind the program or CHD would sue to overturn the mandate.
In August 2021, the agency granted full licensing of the Comirnaty vaccine for ages 16 and older.
However, there are no Comirnaty-labeled vaccines available in the U.S., for any age group.
Although courts have upheld many childhood vaccination requirements for licensed and approved vaccines, no court has ever upheld a mandate for schoolchildren for an EUA vaccine, according to Kennedy.
“In fact, a District of Columbia United States District Court held that EUA vaccines cannot be mandated to soldiers in the U.S. military, who enjoy far fewer rights than civilians. Doe #1 v. Rumsfeld, 297 F.Supp.2d 119 (2003). That court held: ‘… the United States cannot demand that members of the armed forces also serve as guinea pigs for experimental drugs.’ Id. at 135.
“Federal law 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(e)(1)(A)(ii)(III) requires that the person to whom an EUA vaccine is administered be advised, ‘of the option to accept or refuse administration of the product, of the consequences, if any, of refusing administration of the product, and of the alternatives to the product that are available and of their benefits and risks.’
“The reason for the right of refusal stems from the fact that EUA products are by definition experimental.
“Under the Nuremberg Code, a universal legal norm, no one may be coerced to participate in a medical experiment. Consent of the individual is ‘absolutely essential.’ The liability for forced participation in a medical experiment, not to mention liability for injury from such coerced medical intervention, may be incalculable.”
Commenting on the D.C. mandate, CHD President Mary Holland said, “It violates fundamental human rights and international law to force people, and especially children, to take experimental medical products.”
“We sincerely hope the District will reconsider its misguided policy for schoolchildren,” Holland added.
“There is no FDA-approved COVID shot available and therefore, individuals have a right under the emergency use authorization to refuse these shots,” Matthew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told The Epoch Times.
Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, people receiving an EUA product must be advised that some benefits and risks “are unknown” and given the “option to accept or refuse administration of the product.”
“It is your choice to receive or not receive [the vaccine],” Staver said. “Should you decide not to receive it, it will not change your standard medical care,” according to FDA fact sheets on EUA COVID-19 vaccines.
Several other school systems have attempted, so far unsuccessfully, to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate:
• Louisiana: The Louisiana Department of Health in May said it would no longer seek to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for the upcoming school year because the shot had not received full FDA approval for people under the age of 16.
The decision came after CHD and thousands of concerned parents on March 16 filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit seeking to stop the Louisana Department of Health from adding COVID-19 vaccines to the state’s school immunization schedule.
The joint lawsuit was filed in December 2021, by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and state Rep. Raymond Crews against Gov. John Bel Edwards after he announced COVID-19 vaccines would be mandatory for all children age 5 and over at public or private schools.
• Los Angeles: Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Superintendent Alberto Carvalho on April 28 recommended the district postpone its COVID-19 student vaccination mandate until at least July 2023 because the FDA had not fully approved the COVID-19 vaccine for all ages covering grades 7 through 12.
LAUSD officials announced last fall students 12 and older would be required to be vaccinated by the start of the 2022-2023 school year but delayed the mandate because tens of thousands of students still had not complied with the requirement.
• Washington: The Washington State Board of Health in April voted unanimously against adding COVID-19 vaccines to the requirements for students to attend K-12 schools this fall after its advisory group recommended against the requirement. The board said more data was needed about vaccines for ages 5 to 11 and raised concerns that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has yet to be fully approved for ages 5 to 15.