The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added the controversial mRNA COVID-19 shots to the list of vaccines it recommends for children, a step which could bring Maine closer to mandating the treatment for children who attend public schools.
The CDC now recommends the COVID-19 shots for children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years of age as part of the full schedule of vaccinations.
In October, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously in favor of adding the shots to the adult immunization schedule.
Former Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah is a member of ACIP.
Although the change is still only a recommendation and does not constitute a mandate, the guidance could be used by governors and school officials as a pretext to implement vaccine requirements for school children.
School vaccine mandates came up during Gov. Janet Mills’ gubernatorial debates with former Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
In the debates, Mills position on school vaccine mandates evolved, but she never ruled out imposing the requirements.
Mills, who previously embraced vaccine mandates for Maine health care workers, said in the Oct. 24 debate that she was not supportive of school mandates, but she left the door open to potentially implementing them at a later point.
A few days later she clarified that she would not support the mandate because the shots were still covered by an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).