New guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urging children to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend school have sparked a polarized response from the nation’s governors.
GOP chief executives have largely denounced the voluntary guidelines, pledging to block school districts from adopting a coronavirus vaccination as a prerequisite for attendance.
“Under my watch, there will be no COVID vaccine mandates for kids — period,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds, R-Iowa. “In fact, we signed a law that prevents it. It’s the parent’s decision, not the government’s.”
Other Republican governors were similarly quick to denounce the idea. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seen as a potential front-runner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, even argued that, given the relatively new nature of the coronavirus vaccine, the shot might not be suitable for young children.
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“I get a kick out of it when people kind of compare it to (measles, mumps and rubella shots) and things that have been around for decades and decades,” said DeSantis. “These are new shots.”
Earlier this week, the CDC voted to add coronavirus inoculation to the Vaccines for Children Program. The inclusion does not make the shots mandatory for children but places it on a list of recommended vaccinations the CDC provides to physicians.
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GOP governors fear the guidelines will be adopted wholesale by school districts across the country.
“I will never mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for Idahoans of any age group, especially children,” said Gov. Brad Little, R-Idaho. “As long as I am governor, that decision will be determined solely by parents, families and individual citizens.”
Democratic chief executives have followed a different course. Many have remained largely silent about the new guidelines. Of the 22 Democratic governors contacted by Fox News Digital Friday about their position on the topic, only three returned requests for comment.
Some, like Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, said the new guidelines are voluntary and have no immediate impact on either children or parents.
“The main impact of the CDC recommendation is that health insurance companies will be required to cover the cost of the immunization and that the federal government can continue to provide it for free to low-income families,” a spokesman for Newsom said. “It’s interesting that Republican states are criticizing this as schools already require vaccinations for chickenpox, polio, measles and more.”
Still, others took a more muted stand. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills of Maine said she would not ask the state legislature to adopt the vaccine requirement for children.
“Maine has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation. Any COVID-19 vaccine requirement for Maine children would need the approval of the state legislature,” a spokesman for Mills told Fox News Digital.
“The governor will continue to encourage Maine people to be vaccinated, but she has no plans to ask the legislature to require the COVID-19 vaccination for children.”
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Democratic Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado took a similar position, telling Fox News Digital there were no plans to require a coronavirus vaccination for school attendance.
“The Colorado Board of Health generally makes these decisions, and [the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment] is not recommending any additional requirements,” said a spokesman for Polis. “The governor supports this recommendation.”
Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.