As school districts across Massachusetts begin considering whether to require vaccines for children this fall, Governor Charlie Baker this week said the state has no plans to create a vaccine mandate.
The question of whether schools would require vaccinations came up this week as Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was authorized for emergency use in adolescents ages 12 to 15. The vaccine already had been authorized for people 16 and older.
“What we really want to do is make sure we get as many people who are eligible to get vaccinated ... and get them vaccinated in a way that’s convenient and accessible to everybody,” Baker said Wednesday, speaking after a tour of Moderna’s laboratory facility in Norwood.
A reporter followed up: “So no mandate? No plans for a mandate?”
And Baker responded definitively: “No.”
US health advisers endorsed the emergency use of Pfizer’s vaccine for new, younger age group on Wednesday, paving the way for millions of middle and high school students to get their first doses as soon as this week.
Baker has been asked multiple times whether he planned to mandate vaccines before children could return to school buildings in the fall, but he had yet to answer so definitively. In a press conference last week, he told reporters the state is “a long way away from making a decision about that.”
Some school districts already have made their own decisions about whether to mandate vaccines. Needham Superintendent Dan Gutekanst, for example, told the Globe earlier this week that he will “absolutely require” vaccines for his students and staff members to keep schools fully open.