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The CDC cannot require children to get vaccinations to attend school. The CDC's schedule of childhood vaccinations are merely recommendations. It is up to each state to decide whether to follow CDC recommendations. Many state Departments of Health generally follow CDC recommendations for childhood vaccinations and use their schedules to determine what vaccinations children must have to attend school.

On Thursday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and his colleague attorneys general wrote the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Director Rochelle Wolensky, calling on the CDC not to include the COVID-19 vaccine in the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC).

“The COVID-19 vaccine does not provide the same protection against life-threatening illnesses. Instead, it could put more kids at risk instead of protecting them, which is the purpose of the VCF,” wrote the attorneys general. “The CDC should not be treating kids in low-income households as lab experiments. Nor should pharmaceutical companies be allowed to use low-income families as cash cows.

“Given the lack of need for kids to obtain the vaccines and their lack of effectiveness, adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of childhood immunizations amounts to little more than a payout to big pharmaceutical companies at the expense of kids and parents."

Joining Marshall in penning the letter to the CDC were the attorneys general of Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Utah. Call me a cynic, but when I read that some of the decision-making board members had a multitude of conflicts, I was thoroughly unsurprised. Member Ortiz received grants from Pfizer and NIH for trials of COVID-19 vaccines. Members Robertson & Hsu received grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi (the vaccine alliance for supply chain research and technical assistance). Did that stop them from voting for their conflicting interest? Apparently not, as they unanimously decided to include the COVID-19 vaccination on the list of child immunizations.

What does that mean for schoolchildren in the state of Alabama? Fortunately, in 2021, the Alabama Legislature passed Senate Bill 267, commonly known as the Vaccine Passport Bill. Section 1(c) subsection (3) of that legislation provides that, “Institutions of education may continue to require a student to prove vaccination status as a condition of attendance only for the specific vaccines that were already required by the institution as of January 1, 2021, provided that the institutions give an exemption for students with a medical condition or religious belief that is contrary to vaccination.”

Therefore, the verbiage of SB 267 overrides any authority of the Alabama Department of Health or any college or school district to require a COVID-19 shot to attend school in Alabama. In short, though the CDC just added COVID-19 shots to the recommended vaccination schedule for children, current state law prohibits any requirement for children to get COVID-19 shots to attend school in Alabama.

Grassroots supporters pushed from behind for the passage of SB 267 and we all owe a debt of gratitude to the members of the Alabama Legislature that sponsored and supported it. Hindsight is 20/20 (pun intended), and the members of the legislature that stood in the gap for children and citizens of Alabama in the heat of the pandemic are to be commended. This is something that members of the Alabama Legislature got right; let’s give credit where credit is due.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) made a statement that said the CDC vote was necessary so that once COVID-19 shots were no longer “free” (note: nothing is free) that uninsured and underinsured children could have access to them without charge (ahem: taxpayer-funded). ADPH asserted that including the COVID-19 vaccine under VFC is not a mandate for children to take the vaccine. Current information regarding childhood vaccination requirements can be found by reading here.

As reported in 1819 News in June, an Alabama group called Concerned Doctors sent a public letter to ADPH, Gov. Kay Ivey and members of the Alabama Legislature calling on the ADPH to advise doctors to cease COVID-19 shots for minors.

“Concerned Doctors, a network of Alabama physicians and other health care professionals, call for the immediate cessation of COVID-19 vaccination of minors,” the letter read. “With our current understanding of the virus and the vaccine, there is no rational or scientific justification for injecting these experimental biologics into children. We are risking the lives and health of the rising generation for no benefit to them or to society.”

To that end, the attorneys general from Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Arizona, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina, Indiana and Texas went on in their collective letter written just last week, “While we rarely agree with President Biden on policy matters, we do agree with him that “[t]he pandemic is over.” Masks are not required on planes and buses, concerts and festivals are in full swing, football stadiums are packed full, employees are back in the office, and school closures are all but a thing of the past. The fallout of school closures and the forced masking of kids, however, continues. Yet, despite these failures of misguided politicians, government bureaucrats, and their select experts, some want to continue the forced social and medical experiments on kids. A modicum of humility is in order from the elites who demanded Americans’ trust then betrayed it with failed policies, and simultaneously ensured that those with the audacity to question the individuals wielding such power over individual lives and livelihoods would be targeted for censorship and blame. Our Nation’s children are not the federal government’s guinea pigs. As a country that failed so many children over the last couple of years, we owe it to them and their parents to take a responsible path forward.” Amen.

Though she signed the Vaccine Passport legislation, Governor Ivey targeted and blamed businesses and individuals who questioned the wisdom of attempting to lockdown, mask and vaccinate our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who questioned any prevailing public health narrative were attacked and vilified by friends, family members, pastors, and state officials including the Alabama Department of Public Health. ADPH was bold enough to target others even though they are led by an unelected and completely unaccountable state health officer; it remains to be seen whether Harris, the Governor, anyone at the Alabama Department of Health, or the State Board of Health (ie: the lobbying group called the Medical Association) that appoints him will assume any posture of humility or culpability in regards to their betrayal of the trust of Alabamians during the COVID pandemic. I would ask them, but they’re not responsive to citizens or even physicians who don’t blindly fall in line with their unyielding and overreaching public health authority. The Medical Association has taken its leadership and board membership information off its website and the ADPH turned off the ability for people to communicate with them via comments or questions on social media so I will have to assume the answer is no until I see a modicum of evidence that the answer is yes. In the meantime, now that even President Biden agrees that we have COVID-19 in our rearview mirror, grassroots organizations and members of the legislature should work together again to create guardrails and accountability to be sure that a similar betrayal of trust and abuse of public health authority will never seize the citizens of Alabama again. There is plenty of work to be done. Let’s get to it.

Stephanie Holden Smith is an experienced policy analyst, political commentator, and public speaker. Smith has worked and volunteered in Governmental Affairs in Alabama since 1997, including lobbying for a Fortune 500 company and serving as Deputy Director of Finance for the State of Alabama. She is currently the principal of Thatcher Coalition LLC. To contact Stephanie, please go to http://thatchercoalition.com.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information Commentary@1819News.com.

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