GILLETTE, Wyo. — On Thursday, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon stated that Wyoming will not require children to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before attending school.
The tweet, posted on the governor’s page on Oct. 20, was in response to a recent vote carried by a panel for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update the 2023 childhood and adult immunization schedules, which includes incorporating additional information for approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines.
“CDC only makes recommendations for use of vaccines, while school-entry vaccination requirements are determined by state or local jurisdictions,” an Oct. 20 statement on the vote said.
According to Gordon, Wyoming will not require children, or anyone, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Regardless of any recommendations made by the CDC, nothing is changing in Wyoming, and kids are not required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to attend school,” Gordon tweeted. “I will not mandate COVID-19 vaccines for children, and believe COVID-19 vaccination is a personal choice.”
The CDC maintains that childhood vaccinations remain the single best way to protect them from post-COVID conditions and severe illness associated with COVID-19, with health departments across the country reporting thousands of cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome.
The syndrome, or MIS-C, is a condition where different body parts — such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs — can become inflamed, according to the CDC, which adds that vaccination reduces the risk of MIS-C in children between the ages of 12 and 18 by 91%.
In a call to action written by Dr. José Romero, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, healthcare providers should begin communicating with families to add routine childhood and COVID-19 vaccinations to their back-to-school checklist.
During the previous school year, according to Romero, vaccination coverage among kindergartners nationwide dropped more than 1%.
Romero wrote that efforts need to be made to ensure all school-aged children are up to date on their routine vaccines and have received recommended COVID-19 vaccines, and that additional efforts need to be made to ensure vaccine coverage is equitably distributed and sufficient to protect residents against vaccine-preventable diseases.
The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.