The truth about vaccines

There’s an old saying that “bad information can travel halfway around the world before the truth puts on its shoes”. We don’t know who first said this, but we saw a great example this week with claims that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would require COVID vaccinations for children. And moreover, that the children could not go to school if they did not get vaccinated.

The statements were false. Full stop.

Regardless of your opinion of the CDC, it’s important to understand that the federal agency cannot require children to be vaccinated. The CDC may eventually add the COVID vaccine to its list of recommended childhood vaccinations, but that still doesn’t make the vaccine mandatory here in Missouri.

Decisions about which vaccines are needed before a child can attend school in Missouri are made by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), in consultation with the Department of Elementary Education and Missouri Secondary (DESE). These requirements only occur with the authority granted by the Missouri Legislature. And that won’t happen.

Currently, vaccinations are mandatory against rubella, measles, mumps, chickenpox, poliomyelitis, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis B and a few other diseases, but parents can opt for religious objections. The General Assembly also instructed DHSS to prepare informational pamphlets about other CDC-recommended vaccines—human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, for example—but these injections are not necessary for a child go to school.

Let me say it again: A COVID vaccination is NOT required for a child to attend school in Missouri. Regardless of what the CDC decides to recommend, it is up to the legislature and DHSS to demand it. I just don’t see that happening.

If you want specific information about childhood vaccinations, please talk to your doctor or ask the people at your child’s school. They know what vaccines your child needs. You can also find a list of required vaccinations online at health.mo.gov/living/wellness/immunizations/pdf/2023schoolrequirements.pdf.

contact me

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You can write to me at Holly Thompson Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, email [email protected] or visit www.senate.mo.gov/Rehder.