New Orleans Forcing Children Ages 5-to-11 to Show Proof of Vaccination to Enter Restaurants and Other Businesses
(by Emily Woodruff | Nola.com) – In response to increasing COVID-19 cases and the rise of a more infectious variant as the holidays and Carnival approach, Mayor LaToya Cantrell expanded New Orleans’ indoor vaccine or negative test requirement Thursday to children ages 5 to 11 and the New Orleans public school system mandated vaccination for students age 5 and older.
The indoor mandate will go into effect Jan. 3, when children will be required to show proof of at least one vaccine dose. On Feb. 1, four weeks before Mardi Gras, the requirement will be two doses. The school requirement goes into effect Feb. 1, Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. said.
New Orleans is the first city in the U.S. to announce a school vaccine requirement for children as young as five. Only Los Angeles United School District — the nation’s second largest — has imposed a similar mandate for children ages 12 and up. After an initial December deadline, the school district pushed back the start date to fall 2022 because 28,000 students had not complied.
Officials in California and New York have indicated the school mandate will expand to all ages once the shot is fully approved by federal agencies. The two-shot Pfizer vaccine, the only one available to children under 16, remains under emergency use for kids.
Dr. Jennifer Avegno, head of the New Orleans Health Department, said she expects some pushback from parents. Louisiana has laws that allow for religious or philosophical exemption from required school immunizations, along with a medical exemption.
“The exemptions for immunizations are so broad in Louisiana that if you don’t want this, you can sign the form,” said Avegno.
But Avegno pointed out that because immunization compliance in New Orleans is typically high, she is hopeful that the new requirement will provide the needed push for parents to get their kids the COVID shots.
“Our parents generally favor immunizations,” said Avegno. “I’m sure some folks will be unhappy, but they have the ability to opt out.” Read Full Article >