As America faces a rebound in COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant, some universities and employers are requiring staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine. California, Washington, and New York City are requiring teachers and education staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19, with California allowing staff to opt out if they submit to regular testing for the virus.
Currently, Pfizer-BioNTech is the only COVID-19 vaccine available for school-aged children (12–17 years), while Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are only accessible for those over 18. As of Aug. 19, 10.9 million children received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 62.5% in the 12–15 group.
Vaccine requirements are not new for this age group. Every state requires some vaccines for public school students, while 47 do so for private schools, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccines for diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP vaccine/Tdap booster), measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, and chickenpox (varicella) are required nationwide. Some states also require vaccinations to prevent other diseases such as flu or human papillomavirus (HPV). The states also determine the exemption criteria for students to attend school without required vaccinations. The CDC provides a state-level breakdown of the common types of exemptions, such as medical, religious, and philosophical reasons, on its website.
Around 92% of teens ages 13–17 had at least two doses of the MMR vaccine, according to 2019 CDC data. Vermont, North Dakota, and Minnesota had the highest rate of teens with the MMR vaccine. Montana, Idaho, and Texas had the lowest rate of MMR vaccination. In all states, at least 80% of teens are vaccinated against the diseases.
Around 91% of teens ages 13–17 had at least one dose of the Td or Tdap booster as of 2019. North Dakota, Connecticut, and Rhode Island lead the US with the most teens vaccinated against the diseases. Hawaii, Alaska, and Missouri had the lowest Tdap vaccination rates.
Close to 90% of 13–17-year-olds with no disease history had at least two doses of the chickenpox vaccine as of 2019. In many states, both immunity acquired through vaccinations or prior infection are acceptable to satisfy the school attendance requirements. Iowa, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania lead all states in vaccinating against the disease. Arizona, Idaho, and Texas have the lowest rates of teen chickenpox vaccination.
The newest vaccine required by some states prevents infections of HPV. The virus can cause multiple types of cancer, according to the CDC. Rhode Island, Hawaii, Virginia and Washington, DC require the HPV vaccine for students. About 58% of the 13–17-year-olds in the US have received two or more shots of the vaccine. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Washington, DC lead in vaccinating against the disease. Mississippi, Wyoming, and Oklahoma have the lowest HPV vaccination rates.
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