Fact Checkers Come for Tucker Carlson Over Kid Vax Mandate Claim

My colleague Mike Miller wrote on Wednesday that the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) would likely vote to update its guidance to recommend adding COVID vaccines to the adult and child immunization schedules. On Thursday, they unanimously voted to do just that:

Tucker Carlson questioned the safety and efficacy of childhood COVID vaccines on his show Wednesday, while also claiming the CDC’s decision amounted to a vax mandate for schoolkids. Although he acknowledged that the CDC’s guidance is not binding on states, he argued that many states follow it so the effect is the same. Watch:

“The CDC sets the standard and then it becomes required across the country,” Carlson said. On Thursday, the fact-checkers came out in force to dispute that, with the Associated Press, the Washington Post, ABC News, Politico, and many others arguing that Carlson is peddling misinformation. From the AP:

CLAIM: If the CDC adds the COVID-19 vaccine to the immunization schedule for children, the shots will be mandatory to attend school.

THE FACTS: The false claim gained momentum after it was shared by Fox News host Tucker Carlson this week.

The AP continued, reporting that CDC wrote in an email that the agency “only makes recommendations for use of vaccines, while school-entry vaccination requirements are determined by state or local jurisdictions.”

Carlson had asserted that “more than a dozen states follow the CDC’s immunization schedule to set vaccination requirements–not suggestions, requirements–for children to be educated.” Fact-checkers countered that Virginia and Massachusetts, two states which Carlson referred to, do not require the annual flu vaccine in order to attend school–even though the vaccine appears on the CDC’s schedule.

Dr. William Schaffner, a vaccine policy expert and professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (which is currently under fire for its transgender surgeries on minors), said he did not know of any states that automatically require all vaccines as a requirement to go to school. “Those are recommendations that go to pediatricians and family doctors as they care for children,” Schaffner said. “They’re just recommendations, there are no automatic mandates that follow.”

Other articles across the mainstream media cheered on the CDC, and were similarly agitated that anybody would dare to call this a “mandate.”

My question is, if the new guidance is so unimportant, why did the CDC bother issuing it? We’re really supposed to believe that this will have no effect? Of course it will. Blue state governors like California’s Gavin Newsom and Illinois’ J.B. Pritzker are certainly reading the new vax schedule, and you can bet they’ll be in a hurry to use it to impose state-wide mandates. Parents don’t want their kids getting jabbed, though: just look at the 9 percent vaccination rate in kids up to age 5.

The fact-checkers may be right in one respect–the CDC’s update does not in fact mean an automatic nationwide vaccine mandate for kids to go to school. But what’s lost in all this fact-checking bluster is the reality that many children in the future probably will be forced to take the unsafe, unneeded vaccine to get educated anyway because of Thursday’s vote. And that’s just wrong.

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