By Guy Page
Will an important state advisory board recommend required vaccination for Covid-19 for all preschool and school children?
That question was on the agenda today. Yet no-one at the meeting raised the issue. In fact, they said almost nothing at all.
The Vermont Immunization Advisory Council met today for “the pending advice the council might give on Covid-19 vaccination,” newly elected chair Dan French, Secretary of the Agency of Education, said. An announcement of the meeting on the University of Vermont Medical School website said, “The question of requiring Covid-19 vaccination of preschool and schoolage children is expected to be discussed.”
However, when French opened the meeting for discussion, there were no comments. French promised to set an agenda for the next meeting – date to be determined.
Just days after Pfizer – under pressure from federal regulators – on Tuesday Feb. 1 recommended vaccinating children six months and older for Covid-19, the Vermont Immunization Advisory Council this morning held a “Public Meeting to discuss the school immunization schedule.”
The New York Times reported Feb. 1 that Pfizer made the request at the request of federal regulators: “In a highly unusual move, federal regulators pressed the companies to submit the request even though two doses failed to produce the hoped-for immune response among children 2 to 4 years old in a clinical trial.”
The Vermont Immunization Advisory Council was created by the Legislature in 2015 “for the purpose of providing education policy, medical, and epidemiological expertise and advice to the Department with regard to the safety of immunizations and immunization schedules.”
The council meets once a year, Levine explained today. He’s not a member – just an observer, he said. Agency of Education Secretary Dan French facilitated the meeting. He soon was elected chair – “reluctantly,” he said, as there were no other nominations.
Among those in attendance on the Microsoft Teams virtual meeting were pediatrician Rebecca Bell, Rice Memorial High School Nurse Carol Hauke, state epidemiologist Patsy Kelso, family physician Christine Payne of Waterbury, Health Dept. official Monica Ogelby, and Health Dept. lawyer David Englander, and citizen William Moore of Johnson.
Levine gave a brief overview of Vermont’s vaccine status, without addressing required school vaccination.
Only one person piped up during the public discussion section of the meeting: Moore, who is affiliated with Vermont Stands Up, a vaccine freedom group, offered advice on selecting a chair.
Later, when French asked council members to speak, no-one spoke. French then adjourned the meeting.
But at least one person wasn’t done. After adjournment, a woman was heard to say twice: “Dan? Are you still on the line?” Then the Teams connection ended.