Louisiana Students 16 and Up Likely to Have COVID Shot Added to Required School Vaccines

Students in Louisiana could be required to have a coronavirus vaccination added to their list of required school shots, the Associated Press reported.

Louisiana lawmakers met on Monday to debate legislation proposed by Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards on December 3. This piece of legislation could require students to receive their COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend school. The proposal currently only applies to high school and higher education students ages 16 and up. However, Republican lawmakers are at odds with Edwards' administration over the idea.

"Parents should not be forced to jump through hoops," said Republican House Speaker Clay Schexnayder. During the meeting, he questioned the ability of the Edwards administration in enacting such a mandate.

This viewpoint is one shared among the majority of Republicans in the Louisiana legislature. However, Edwards maintains that he is able to override the rejection of the law and make the coronavirus vaccination a part of the state-mandated immunization schedule for students. Edwards intends to do this once a final vote is reported, according to the AP.

Students in Louisiana are required to be vaccinated against certain diseases before they attend schools, daycare centers, and colleges. Some examples of these include vaccinations against measles, polio and tetanus.

For more reporting from The Associated Press, see below.

Louisiana Mandate
The proposed vaccine mandate would only apply to students aged 16 and up at this time. Above, lawmakers on the House Health and Welfare Committee listen to opponents of Governor John Bel Edwards' proposed coronavirus vaccine mandate for some of Louisiana's school children on December 6, 2021, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte

The fate of the plan seems likely to be decided by the courts, with Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry and the Edwards administration at odds over whether the coronavirus vaccine requirement can be legally enacted by the governor without support from the full Legislature.

Even if the coronavirus shots are mandated at Louisiana schools, the state allows broad exemptions for parents and students to opt-out by submitting a written objection from a doctor or a general written dissent.

But some lawmakers worried children could be excluded from in-person classes if they file such paperwork, even though the Louisiana Department of Health said it doesn't intend to push the exclusion of unvaccinated children from school. The lawmakers—several of whom said they are vaccinated—said parents should get to make decisions about the shots their children receive.

Representative Dustin Miller, an Opelousas Democrat, said parents still will get the choice they want.

"I think we're simply allowing parents to sign paperwork" if they don't want to comply, he said.

If it takes effect, the initial rollout of the vaccination requirement would only apply to age groups for whom the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given full approval of the immunization. The mandate could be broadened to cover younger children and daycare facilities if the FDA grants full backing to the shots for more age groups.

Monday's hearing was packed with parents opposed to the vaccination rule and with Republican lawmakers who don't sit on the committee but wanted to speak in opposition to requiring students to get the immunization or file an opt-out form.

John Bel Edwards
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced that a COVID-19 vaccination could be added to the list of required vaccines Louisiana students need for school. Edwards is seen above during a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on April 29, 2020. Photo by Mandel Ngan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images