The COVID-19 vaccine is now part of the recommended routine vaccines for children ages 18 and younger under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, according to a Thursday announcement.
While the recommendation does not mean vaccines will be required for school attendance — a requirement that is set by states — many states do look to the CDC for guidance on the issue and have routinely depended on the agency to set policy around COVID-19 precautions.
The CDC also noted in its release that health care providers can use the 2023 immunization schedule to determine recommended vaccinations for their patients.
Currently, all states and the District of Columbia have vaccination requirements for students.
While some districts and states have successfully pushed school staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — such as in Los Angeles Unified School District and New York City — similar efforts have fallen mostly by the wayside for students.
Despite early debate over schools potentially requiring the shot, localities have mostly pushed off the decision or dropped it entirely.
California's Department of Public Health, for example, had originally proposed a school attendance vaccine requirement, which it pushed off until July 2023 and then abandoned altogether earlier this week.
District leaders often depend on state and local guidance or legislation before making decisions or recommendations around required vaccines to their boards.
The addition of the COVID-19 shot to the routine list of child-age vaccinations comes just prior to a Friday notice from the White House announcing that the national emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic is anticipated to end on May 11.
The inclusion of the COVID-19 vaccine in the list of recommended regular vaccines comes after an October 2022 meeting during which the same CDC advisory committee approved the vaccine as routine for children and adolescents ages 18 and younger. The advisory committee advises the CDC director and makes recommendations that, if adopted, are included in official CDC guidance.