Formal recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that children be vaccinated for COVID-19 won't translate to state mandates, as that's not how state rules come about, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Sunday.
"Quite frankly, I don't think there should be state mandates," Gottlieb, a board member for Pfizer, a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "I don't think we're at the point right now where we should be considering mandating this vaccine as a condition to attend school."
Parents should "strongly consider" vaccinating their children, Gottlieb added, but "I wouldn't expect to see any state mandating this vaccine."
Gottlieb's comments come as claims are circulating that the CDC, which incorporated recommendations about COVID vaccines for children into their permanent recommendations, or vaccine schedule, was moving to mandate the shots.
The formal recommendation was made, he said, so that federal funding can be provided for children from low-income families to get their shots.
There have been several political candidates and sitting political figures who have tweeted that the vaccines will be mandated, and Gottlieb said he believes that can prove dangerous.
"The more that this becomes a political matter, and more people make this a political matter, that campaign against mandates bleeds into a campaign against the vaccine itself and people generally don't take away the nuance of those messages, if there is any nuance in those messages in the first place," said Gottlieb. "They hear the skepticism against the vaccine, and then they're less likely to consider it for themselves, even where it makes sense from a clinical standpoint."
However, he said he's not seeing people stepping up and saying they believe such decisions should be left up to parents, but recommending all available vaccines in advance of flu and COVID season.
"That would have been an appropriate message in my view for a governor to say," said Gottlieb.
Meanwhile, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is causing a surge in respiratory illness in young children, and it can be serious for children under the age of two while causing cold-like symptoms in older children, Gottlieb said.
"This is not unlike the season last year, where we also saw an early peak in those cases," he said. "Some people ascribe it to the fact that children have been somewhat removed from the circulating pathogen, so you don't have as much immunity in the population generally."
RSV is also concerning among people who are immunocompromised and older adults, said Gottlieb, but he's concerned that people may not take it seriously.
"For parents who have children who have an upper respiratory infection, many times are testing them finding out is not COVID and feeling relieved," he said. "I think they still need to be vigilant."
Gottlieb also on Sunday urged people not to only get the COVID booster shots, but the influenza vaccine, as the flu season looks to be "more aggressive" this year.
"I think in terms of just protecting yourselves, it's just the normal things that we advise people to do, wash your hands, try to avoid crowded spaces if you are someone who's at risk," he said. "If you don't feel well, stay home, don't send a child to school if they're not feeling well so you don't expose others to an infection."
As for masks, he added, a high-quality mask should be chosen if people wish, even though many people are masking up anymore.
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