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Columbia Business Monthly

DHEC Says It Won’t Require Covid Vaccine for Kids to Attend School

Nov 02, 2022 12:44PM ● By Liv Osby

By Liv Osby

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has signed on to a letter asking the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep the Covid-19 vaccine off the list of vaccinations it recommends as part of routine childhood immunizations.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), meanwhile, says these decisions are up to the states and that it has no plans to include the Covid vaccine in the line-up of inoculations required for children to attend daycare or school.

Wilson and attorneys general from 10 other states, including Alabama, Florida, and Texas, signed on to a letter from Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which last month recommended the Covid vaccine be added to childhood immunizations.

According to that letter, the recommendation is unnecessary and could subject children to retaliation if their parents opt not to have their children vaccinated against Covid.

“Moreover,” the letter continued, “this action could deny many parents the freedom to determine whether to subject their kids to an experimental vaccine.”

While vaccines on the schedule now immunize children against potentially deadly diseases such as polio, measles, and mumps, the letter argued, “children are at little risk of death from Covid-19.”

Furthermore, putting the Covid-19 vaccine on the list of vaccines for children could cause people to reject other more traditional vaccinations, the letter stated. 

“There is still much we do not know about the virus, its origins, and, importantly, the vaccines,” it read. “And there is widespread disagreement as to whether kids need to be vaccinated.” 

In a statement, DHEC said that the Covid vaccine “is safe and effective for the vast majority of people, including children 6 months and older,” that it reduces the risk of serious Covid illness, “and saves lives, including in children.”

The CDC noted in a release that it only makes recommendations for vaccinations and that school-entry vaccination requirements are determined by state or local jurisdictions. 

DHEC agreed.

“States decide what immunizations are required, and South Carolina does not require all of the recommended ones from CDC,” its statement read. “Similarly, South Carolina has not and does not plan to add Covid-19 vaccination to the list of required immunizations for childcare or school entry.”

The agency added that a law passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster in April provides that “the state or any political subdivision may not enact a Covid-19 vaccination mandate.” 

Wilson said in a release that he “will oppose any effort to add the Covid-19 vaccine to the list of shots that children must get to go to school.”

DHEC, meanwhile, said its experts continue to review the evidence and research, and that its recommendations haven’t changed.

“Based on the scientific evidence,” the agency concluded, “we recommend parents discuss the Covid-19 vaccine with their child’s provider and review reliable sources of information such as and so they can make an informed decision that is right for their family.”