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WA technical advisory group to consider adding Covid shots to required vaccinations list

Courtesy of the Federal Food and Drug Administration

School-age children in Washington are required to be vaccinated against a host of dangerous illnesses, such as polio, measles and hepatitis. A special committee is now considering whether to add coronavirus vaccines to that list.A technical advisory group met for the first time Wednesday. It is tasked with making a recommendation to the Washington Board of Health.

The panel will consider three major areas, said Washington Board of Health’s Samantha Pskowski: efficacy, disease burden and implementation.

The advisory group will consider nine individual factors before arriving at a recommendation. Vaccines have to be recommended for children; effective in preventing disease; cost-effective; and safe with an acceptable level of side effects. Further, the panel must be convinced available coronavirus vaccines prevent serious disease and reduce person-to-person transmission, especially in classroom or childcare settings. Finally, vaccines must be acceptable to the medical community and the public, and represent reasonable burdens for storage, transport, and access.

The technical advisory group will have two to three more meetings in the new year. They will hear from immunization experts. Then they will vote on a recommendation and forward it to the full Washington Board of Health. The board gets the final say. There is no firm timetable for that decision.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a national body that occupies a similar role, has cleared Pfizer’s vaccine for children as young as five.

Brandon Hollingsworth is your All Things Considered host. He has served public radio audiences for fifteen years, primarily in reporting, hosting and interviewing. His previous ports-of-call were WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Alabama Public Radio. His work has been heard nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now and NPR’s top-of-the-hour newscasts.