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Mandatory SARS-CoV-2 Vaccinations in K-12 Schools, Colleges/Universities, and Businesses

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidance that fully vaccinated individuals can safely remove masks and end social distancing in most indoor settings.1 Educational facilities and businesses are faced with whether and how to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, including requiring proof of vaccination. Mandatory vaccination has historically served as a tool to reach and sustain high immunization coverage and to prevent transmission in K-12 schools, colleges/universities, and health care facilities. Vaccine mandates could extend to workers and customers in businesses to ensure safer environments. This Viewpoint examines the epidemiologic, public health, and legal considerations for mandatory SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations in each setting.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Lawrence O. Gostin, JD, O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown Law, 600 New Jersey Ave NW, McDonough 568, Washington, DC 20001 (gostin@georgetown.edu).

Published Online: June 7, 2021. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.9342

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Mr Gostin reported being the director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law. Dr Shaw reported serving on a Pfizer speakers’ bureau for meningococcal vaccine. Dr Salmon reported receiving research grants from Merck and Walgreens, and is a paid member of an advisory board for Janssen.

References
1.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interim public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people. Updated May 13, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html
2.
National Conference of State Legislatures. States with religious and philosophical exemptions from school immunization requirements. Accessed May 20, 2021. https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/school-immunization-exemption-state-laws.aspx
3.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Children and COVID-19: state-level data report. Updated May 17, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2021. https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/children-and-covid-19-state-level-data-report/
4.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Science brief: COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination. Updated May 27, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/fully-vaccinated-people.html
5.
Opel  DJ , Diekema  DS , Ross  LF .  Should we mandate a COVID-19 vaccine for children?   JAMA Pediatr. 2021;175(2):125-126. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.3019PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
6.
New York Times. Tracking coronavirus cases at US colleges and universities. Updated April 30, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/college-covid-tracker.html
7.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID data tracker: COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States. Accessed May 20, 2021. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations
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