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Former FDA commissioner says schools should not mandate boosters for children

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb during a November 7 appearance on “Face the Nation.”

CBS News/Face the Nation

  • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he doesn’t think schools should require children to get the booster shot.
  • “I think this should be left up to the discretion of parents and their physicians,” Gottlieb said.
  • This week, the FDA is expected to expand booster shot eligibility to children between the ages of 12 and 15.

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday that he doesn’t believe schools should require booster shots against COVID-19. 

“I certainly don’t think schools should be mandating boosters. I think this should be left up to the discretion of parents and their physicians,” Gottlieb said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“It’s going to depend on the individual circumstances: What is the risk that the child’s facing? Are they in a setting where they are more likely to come in contact with the infection? Do they have some underlying health conditions that put them at increased risk of bad outcomes?” Gottlieb continued.

—Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 2, 2022

The Food and Drug Administration in November gave the greenlight on booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, allowing all adults in the United States to receive one if they meet the qualifications.

And just last week, news broke that the FDA plans to expand eligibility for Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots to children between the ages of 12 and 15. The announcement from the FDA is expected to come early this week. 

Eligibility expansions come as the Omicron variant continues to spread across the country. About 58% of all recent COVID-19 cases can be attributed to the Omicron variant, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The variant is believed to the most contagious strain of the virus. But a recent study found that a third dose against COVID-19 — the booster shot — reduces the risk of hospitalization by 88% within two weeks of getting it. 

Meanwhile, the omicron variant is sending kids to the hospital in droves. 

CDC data from the week of December 22 to December 28 showed the highest spike in hospitalization rates for children up to 17 years of age. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 increased that week by 66% from the week prior. 

So far, about 62% of the US population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — meaning that individuals either have both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A booster shot is not counted in the definition of “fully vaccinated” at this time, though the CDC did say in October that that might change in the future. 

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