Fact Check: CDC Did NOT Mandate Kids Get COVID-19 Vaccine For School -- It's Up To Each State

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: CDC Did NOT Mandate Kids Get COVID-19 Vaccine For School -- It's Up To Each State States Decide

Did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandate that students get COVID-19 shots? No, that's not true: While an independent CDC advisory committee did vote on October 20, 2022, to add the COVID vaccine to its list of recommended childhood shots, each state sets its own vaccine requirements. The CDC already recommends COVID shots to everyone 6 months and older and boosters for everyone 5 years and older, if eligible.

The claim appeared in an Instagram post and video on October 19, 2022, under the title "GET YOUR KIDS OUT OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS NOW!!!" The headline included in the video says:

CDC could add COVID vaccine requirement for children to immunization list?!?!


This is what the Instagram post looked like at the time of writing:

Tucker Carlson.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Thu Oct 20 20:35:33 2022 UTC)

No mandate

While the CDC advisory committee did vote to add the COVID vaccine to its list of recommended immunizations, there's no mandate or requirement for states to follow suit. Here's what the CDC website says about it:

State laws establish vaccination requirements for school children. These laws often apply not only to children attending public schools but also to those attending private schools and day care facilities. All states provide medical exemptions, and some state laws also offer exemptions for religious and/or philosophical reasons. State laws also establish mechanisms for enforcement of school vaccination requirements and exemptions.

The public health agency said the same thing on Twitter ahead of the vote, countering the video's claim:

Screenshot 2022-10-20 170514.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Thu Oct 20 21:06:47 2022 UTC)

State and local officials often look to the CDC lists in making decisions about vaccination requirements for attending school, but local officials don't always adopt every recommendation.

State by state

Vaccine mandates have been politically divisive since they became available during the pandemic in December 2020. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said in an October 20, 2022, tweet that COVID vaccines will not be required in the Sunshine state:


(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Thu Oct 20 21:21:08 2022 UTC)

A day earlier on October 19, 2022, Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano took a similar stance, tweeting:

PA gov candidate.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Thu Oct 20 21:28:34 2022 UTC)

Weeks ahead of the CDC advisory committee vote, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, had already taken a stand in favor of a vaccine requirement for school kids. Here's what his October 1, 2022, tweet said:


(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Thu Oct 20 21:37:02 2022 UTC)

Additional Lead Stories fact checks related to COVID-19 vaccines can be found here.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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