LETTER: Parent Urges School Committee to Mandate COVID Vaccinations

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Dear School Committee,

As far as I’m aware, Watertown has not yet announced a policy for COVID vaccination in schools. I’m writing today to urge you to adopt a mandate as many other jurisdictions are now doing. COVID vaccines are safe and effective, and are by far the most effective way to prevent COVID outbreaks in our schools and keep our teachers and students safe. I got vaccinated at the first opportunity and will get my children vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. 

Masks, ventilation, social distancing, and testing can help, but there is a limit to what ventilation can do, and in many ways masks, social distancing, and testing are far more burdensome than getting a vaccine because the vaccine is two doses at single points in time, whereas masks and social distancing restrict what people can do every single day. It seems incongruous to mandate the less effective, more burdensome intervention, while leaving the more effective, less burdensome intervention up to the individual. Mandatory vaccination is already a common and accepted part of our school experience and I urge the school committee not to wait to add the COVID vaccine to the already existing list of vaccines that are mandatory for everyone without a valid exemption.

Obviously it is late to impose a “fully vaccinated” mandate for the first day of school, but there is still plenty of time to require that all staff have received at least one dose before school starts next month. For students:

  • We know that vaccination rates among 12-17 are low and a mandate may be inconvenient for parents — Watertown should strongly consider offering the vaccine in school for eligible unvaccinated students, and impose a reasonable deadline before the mandate takes effect
  • For younger students — all news points to the COVID vaccines becoming available to our younger kids sometime mid-fall. When it becomes available, I urge the town to offer the vaccine in school to all eligible students as soon as possible and to have an announcement of that fact ready to go; then to impose a reasonable deadline thereafter before the mandate takes effect

We all have to do our part to kick COVID to the curb. Vaccines are the most effective way to do so, and I urge the school committee not to leave the safest, most effective, and least burdensome method on the table while instead relying on harsher and less effective measures.

Matt Lashof-Sullivan

Watertown Public Schools Parent

28 thoughts on “LETTER: Parent Urges School Committee to Mandate COVID Vaccinations

  1. To suggest that a parent not getting a vaccine for their kid because it is inconvenient is silly. And the school offered a day of vaccine in the middle school when it was approved. Why just the COVID vaccine, why not the flu shot? There are currently NO emergency vaccines mandated anywhere in a school district and nor should it be.
    Please note I believe in the vaccine and my kids are vaccinated but it is an unapproved experimental vaccine that I completely understand parents being nervous. Each day we are finding out more side effect.

  2. In addition to making vaccinations available to students at our schools, offer them to the parents / guardians as well. High school and Middle School even before school starts, and elementary schools as soon as children that age are eligible.

  3. Matt, I agree with your call for mandatory vaccination for teachers and all students as eligible age-wise.
    One thing to consider with the new Delta variant is that some fully vaccinated individuals have high rates of viral load in their upper respiratory tract which can cause them to spread COVID as easily as unvaccinated individuals. The good news is that the number of days of shedding/contagiousness for vaccinated individuals seems to be much less than for unvaccinated individuals – that being said, masks are still a good idea as long as children are unvaccinated. This page has a good summary/explanation of recent studies: https://yourlocalepidemiologist.substack.com/p/latest-and-greatest-on-delta-among

    • I agree this is something that can happen, I’m not necessarily saying mandate vaccines instead of masks, just that it’s weird to mandate masks but not vaccines.

      That said, although it’s definitely possible for a vaccinated person to transmit COVID, it’s much less likely for them to be infected in the first place. Since COVID isn’t going to go away then if we’re going to require masks + vaccines there should be some metric (case rates?) under which vaccines are enough — otherwise we’re going to be putting masks on our kids literally forever.

  4. Before the School Committee mandates anything, how about some facts? How many cases of Covid have the children of Watertown had? I’d like to see facts by age and school.

    • I agree. They are going to mandate it, I just wont let my child partake in it. They need to answer some questions as well. I personally spoke to Pfizer and in doing so felt confident to take my termination with my head high.
      On August 23, 2021, the FDA reissued the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and announced the approval of the biologics license application for Comirnaty that created confusion that they have yet to clarify. FDA’s EUA reissuance that Comirnaty and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are “legally distinct with certain differences that do not impact safety or effectiveness,” and that although COMIRNATY is approved to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older, there is not sufficient approved vaccine available for distribution to this population in its entirety at the time of reissuance of this EUA. Its not available in the US.

    • This has nothing to do with tomatoes and like or dislike thereof. It has to do with a deadly disease that in 18 months has killed more Americans than died in WWII.

      • How sad that this is the mentality we are dealing with after more than half a million Americans have died. We know exactly how to control this pandemic, and we have an extremely loud and ignorant minority in complete denial, and total fear.

      • No Joe. It doesn’t have anything to do with tomatoes. It has to do with the fact that this is a free country and we have the right to choose for ourselves what we do. If the school mandates vaccines, they better be ready if a child gets sick from that vaccine. It’s a liability to mandate it since it isn’t FDA approved.

        • What you are saying is that you have the right to make other people sick and perhaps die? If you don’t want to take the vaccine or wear a mask, then stay in your house where you can harm no one but yourself.

          It may be a free country, but moral responsibility and decency require that you consider other human beings when you act. There is no constitutional right to make others sick.

          The vaccine is a great thing for the vast majority. So are masks. These two measures will help us beat this virus.

          • Joe, HIV is communicable and can kill too.

            So, are you in favor of mandatory testing for HIV?

            How about mandatory HPV (Herpes type virus) vaccines as HPV is sexually communicable and can cause cancer in some cases?

      • While magically dropping the death rates in all other categories. At a certain point people need to shut off the tv and get on with life. There will ALWAYS be some “deadly sickness” to clutch our collective pearls about. More youth have died from drowning this year than Covid. Maybe we should require everyone to wear flotation devices 24/7??

        Get the kids back to school. Let them wear masks, or not, if they choose to. Get vaxxed, or not, if they choose to. If any parents or staff have issue with that they can take precautions, stay home, or educate/be educated elsewhere.

        Please stop trying to force others to accommodate your irrational fears.

        • Seems like people who won’t get the vaccine are the ones with “irrational fears”. How many people have had serious side effects from the vaccine vs the people who have been very ill with Covid-19 or died?

          • Thanks everyone for your comments. Please lets debate the issue and not the commenter. I will not be allowing comments that are aggressive toward a commenter. Points can be made without getting personal.

  5. I agree. I want my son to have an enlarged heart that could have a 75% chance it could kill him instead of a POSSIBLE case of the sniffles with a 100% recovery rate.

    He almost certain death will be worth it as long as you feel safe.

  6. Much ##@@!!Paranoia##@@!! in Watertown despite a very small Covid risk to children.

    Where is all this fear coming from?

    I sense that the Left and Democrats are more paranoid than the Right and the GOP.

  7. There are more than 7,000 deaths of people from taking the actual vaccine. So there is a legitimate reason for some people to fear getting the shot. No one knows who will be one of these statistics. There is a family that has come out after losing their son to the vaccine. They regret giving the shot to their child. This has to be an individual decision for you and your families. Also, most people getting the Delta variant aren’t getting seriously sick. It’s mainly the ones with comorbidities such as diabetes, obesity, etc. who are dying from the virus or ending up in the hospital. The people who have had the virus have more immunities in their systems and they seem to last longer than the vaccines. The CDC is already talking about another round of shots for some people with health issues and probably the rest of us in the near future. If they have their way, they will make it an annual shot like the flu shot and the flu shot is only about 40 to 50% effective. Nothing is going to protect everyone from all viruses and people need to accept this as part of life’s challenges. We can’t be protected from everything and the sooner people realize this, maybe we can move on from forcing our edicts on others and regain some peace and harmony.

    • I don’t want people to think that, by leaving this unresponded to, people agree that the vaccine is dangerous. The vaccine is safe and there is no basis for the claim that 7,000 people have died because of the vaccine.* Meanwhile, over 620,000 Americans have died from the actual virus. But for some reason, the false claim of 7,000 deaths makes vaccines “dangerous” while the actually existing 620,000 deaths mean COVID is not making people seriously sick? I agree nothing is going to protect against all viruses and we are all mortal, but we also take simple easy measures to protect against easily preventable risks.

      I sure hope everyone reading this wears their seatbelts, has smoke detectors in their homes, etc. Just because we will die someday doesn’t mean we need to invite it — I for one plan on living a good long time!

      * – I did some googling and the 7,000 figure seems to come from a viral social media post sourced from VAERS — a database that records every adverse event that occurs after vaccination, not only adverse events that occur *because of* vaccination. Technically, if you get the COVID vaccine and then die as the passenger in a car crash, that is supposed to be reported to VAERS. See https://www.factcheck.org/2021/03/scicheck-viral-posts-misuse-vaers-data-to-make-false-claims-about-covid-19-vaccines/ Folks, please don’t take your medical information from randos on TikTok!

    • Your comment is grossly misleading. In the United States, as of August 9, the last date through which updated information is available, there have been 1,587 breakthrough cases of vaccinated individuals who died, and of those 341 were classified as asymptomatic or not related to covid. Source: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/health-departments/breakthrough-cases.html

      But let’s pretend that all of those 1,587 cases died from covid despite the vaccine. That’s 1,587 out of over 166 million who had been fully vaccinated by August 9. Those numbers come from the source cited above. Let’s just call that an even 166 million. The math is easy: 1,587 dead out of 166 million vaccinated is about a 0.001% death rate.

      A little more math: if 166 million were fully vaccinated, there were about 167 million who weren’t fully vaccinated, a total that includes both people who are partially vaccinated and children under the age of 12, all of who should be less susceptible to dying from the virus than unvaccinated adults. Of those 167 million, about 635,000 are confirmed to have died from covid; the real number is undoubtedly higher. Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries

      Easy math again: 635,000 dead out of 167 million unvaccinated is about 0.4%. Not a lot, unless someone you love is among the 635,000. Still a death rate about 400 times that of the vaccinated. And death isn’t the only life-changing consequence. Countless more have survived but suffered irreparable damage to brains, hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys, and other organs. They haven’t died, but their lives will never be the same. Personally, I’d like to do everything possible to spare my children such a fate. I’d also like to make it as safe as possible for them to be in school this year, if for no other reason than that they’d learn more about how vaccines work than the nattering nabobs of vaccine negativism ever did.

  8. The teacher’s union has been all too quiet. I think they are waiting for the 11th hour…Good luck parents of school age kids!

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