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September 14, 2020

Should We Mandate a COVID-19 Vaccine for Children?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • 3MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Pediatr. Published online September 14, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.3019

The zeal to develop and implement a vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection has been exceptional. Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration's proposal, seeks to produce hundreds of millions of doses of a vaccine by January 2021. Recent polls show as many as 70% of adults in the United States plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19 once a vaccine is available.1 And thousands of adults have registered to participate as volunteers in human challenge trials to speed up the development of a new vaccine.2

We anticipate that this fervor will eventually lead to discussions about making a COVID-19 vaccine mandatory. An obvious group to target for mandatory vaccination is children. Not only do we already mandate several vaccines for them to attend school, but strategies to reopen schools or keep them open may be predicated on it.

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