What Pfizer’s FDA approval could mean for mandates in schools

With the FDA's approval of the Pfizer COVID vaccine, what authority do public schools in Louisiana have when it comes to mandates?
Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 4:07 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2021 at 4:12 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - While Pfizer’s vaccine was under emergency use authorization, a lot of employers and schools did not feel comfortable with a mandate. But with full approval from the FDA, you’re now likely to see employers and schools implement them moving forward.

“I understand there are parents running around at school board meetings saying you can’t tell me what to do with my kid, okay I can’t. But if you send your child into school and it infects my child then it’s my problem,” said local Baton Rouge attorney Jill Craft.

The decision by the FDA to approve Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has drawn even more attention to the conversation. With its approval, what authority do public schools in Louisiana have when it comes to mandates? Craft has those answers.

“With it being fully approved I think it just takes another excuse off the table as to why people have been trying to latch on to not being vaccinated,” said Craft.

According to Craft, public schools will be able to legally mandate the vaccine for all its students who are eligible. But there will likely be students who wish to opt-out due to health or religious reasons.

“That means you’re exempt, okay. That means you are exempt from participation in society under whatever restrictions society has enacted for the common good,” Craft continued.

So, if public schools have that authority, what about private schools?

“Private schools are in some sense afforded more opportunity to restrict the liberties of the children or the folks that they educate because they are private schools, because they’re not subject to necessarily restrictions on what the government can and cannot do via its population,” Craft explained.

LSU’s president William Tate greeted students back on campus on Monday, August 23 for the fall semester. He’s said recently he would mandate a vaccine should one become FDA approved. He also mentioned a student will have the right to opt-out but could limit them to what they can do on campus. However, he’s confident there won’t be too much of an issue.

“That vaccine has been researched very well and we believe it’s the best thing to keep things safe and our doors open the rest of the semester,” said Dr. Tate.

In addition, LSU says they need to fully review Pfizer’s approval from the FDA before the school makes an official decision. But it’s highly likely the decision has already been made. An official announcement is expected sometime Tuesday afternoon.

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