Despite a new trial study finding the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine works on children between the ages of 5 and 11, it does not look like Mayor Bill de Blasio will issue a vaccine mandate for public school students anytime soon.
On Monday, the pharmaceutical company said early findings of a long-awaited study showed the vaccine was safe for children as young as five years old and that side effects to the inoculation were similar to those seen in 16 to 25-year-olds.
During de Blasio’s Sept. 20 press conference, a New York Times reporter asked if the positive news for Pfizer-BioNTech meant the City would issue a vaccine mandate for public school children. Currently, all municipal workers including roughly 75,000 public school teachers must get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27.
And although City officials like the mayor and Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter have been encouraging vaccine-eligible students to get the shot, there is not explicit COVID vaccination requirement for public school students.
During a morning press conference, de Blasio reiterated his stance on the vaccine mandate for children.
“The goal is to get our kids in school for the foreseeable future and the best way to do that is to welcome kids while constantly working to improve the levels of vaccination,” de Blasio told reporters during a Monday press conference.
Over the summer, the mayor and schools chancellor have repeatedly held press events at youth vaccination sites across the five boroughs and stressed the importance of the vaccine. In order to further boost vaccination rates among kids, the City set up pop-up vaccination sites at 700 school locations across the five boroughs during the first week of school, enough for every school serving a 12 to 17-year-old.
At the moment, the FDA has only granted an emergency use authorization for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on children 12 and up and full approval for teens 16 and older. According to City officials, 70% of all 12 to 17-year-olds in New York City, or about 361, 829 kids, have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.
Earlier during the press conference, de Blasio cheered the positive news from Pfizer-BioNTech and urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “speed up” its approval process for the vaccine´s use on younger children.
“We need these vaccines by the end of October, let’s give a wonderful Halloween gift, a treat, for all kids,” he said.