(The Center Square) – The first couple of weeks of the Hochul administration have brought some long-awaited good vibes to the relationship between state government and New York City. However, a cloud or two may be on the verge of forming thanks to differing views on COVID-19 vaccine mandates for kids.
While they agree more kids – and more people in general – should get vaccinated, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Thursday the city’s not inclined, for now, to mandate that kids as young as 12 receive the shots in order to go to school.
Just the day before, Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters such a mandate is “on the table” should the state see an uptick in cases at schools.
New York City schools open on Monday.
The mayor’s reasoning is shaded by the fact that nearly two-thirds of students ages 12 to 17 are already vaccinated, and he said Thursday he expects that figure to increase by “a lot in the coming days.” That figure far exceeds the national percentage for adolescents, which de Blasio figures allows him to look at a bigger picture.
“The most important thing right now is getting kids back in school,” he said. “If there’s a family that’s not yet ready, I don’t want that family kept out of school. I want them in school where we can help their kid, especially for the kids who have been out for the last year and a half.”
The mayor added the city would go along with a state mandate. Still, he noted that over the last 18 months, the state has “generally deferred to the city” regarding school-related matters.
What may help those families on the fence is the digital marketing campaign Hochul announced earlier this week.
The state’s going digital to educate parents of 12-to-17-year-olds about the vaccine. The state is rolling out a “VaxtoSchool” website as well as a new Instagram page with information.
Pop-up vaccination sites will also be announced soon, the governor said.
“It’s just all about prioritizing the health of our teachers, our administrators and our children,” Hochul said. “So we get that sense of security that parents will need when they say goodbye to their child and send them off to school.”
Just as the data may be influencing de Blasio’s viewpoint on student vaccinations, the same may hold true for Hochul as well.
The governor said Wednesday that 50% of the state’s 12-to-17-year-olds are fully vaccinated, noting it’s a figure the state needs to improve upon.
“We’re better than the nation,” she said. “We’re better than large states, but I’m very competitive. I like to be number one in everything we do, and I want to see that number go up. And I believe we’ll get there.”
While New York will push to get more kids vaccinated, results of a survey released last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation show that 58% of parents with 12-to-17-year-olds are against schools requiring student vaccination.
The KFF poll found 41% of parents had vaccinated their eligible children through the end of July, with 6% saying they would get their kids vaccinated right away.
However, 23% said they were waiting to see how effective the vaccine was before allowing their kids to take it. Another 9% said their children would only get it if required.
The remaining 20% said they would not permit their children to be vaccinated.