Dr. Scott Jensen said he would not mandate COVID-19 vaccines for schoolchildren if elected governor and called on Democratic Gov. Tim Walz to clarify his position.
Jensen’s comments were made in response to a unanimous vote by a CDC advisory panel to add COVID-19 vaccines to its 2023 childhood and adult immunization schedules. This does not automatically mean the vaccines will be mandatory for schoolchildren nationwide.
However, state health departments use the CDC’s immunization schedule as a guideline for developing vaccination requirements, according to an AFP fact-check. According to the CDC, “school-entry vaccination requirements” are a state and local decision.
Republicans across the country are criticizing the move and saying it will be used to “force children to receive the COVID vaccine in order to attend school.”
“Let me start out by saying one thing: there will be no COVID-19 vaccine mandates [for children to attend school] under my watch. There will not be,” Jensen said in a video released Saturday.
“I would ask Tim Walz: what do you say? What are you going to say to the millions of Minnesota parents and voters? Because I think they deserve to know,” he added. “I know you won’t be at the debate tomorrow night, but you still need to speak up on this issue.”
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, only 4.9% of children between the ages of six months and four years old have received a completed vaccine series. Another 60% of children between 5-11 have not completed a vaccine series. Slightly more than 60% of children between 12-15 have completed a vaccine series, but only 3.5% are up to date on their booster shots.
“What’s the first thing we have to consider, right out of the box, the first thing? It has to be about you,” Jensen said. “It has to be about parent rights. It has to be about your health freedom. It has to be about your children’s health freedom.”