It is not some "crazy new idea" to mandate vaccines for people in different professions, and the COVID-19 vaccine should not be treated any differently, Brown University School of Public Health Dr. Ashish Jha said on Newsmax Tuesday while advocating shot requirements for teachers and others.
"I think the answer is yes, especially teachers have in schools where kids can't get vaccinated kids under 12," Jha said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "I think teachers should be getting vaccinated. It's the right thing to do ... Look we have all sorts of vaccine mandates in our country. We've always had them."
He also rejected the argument that forcing children to wear masks in schools could cause long-term effects for them, and said mandating shots for teachers could keep kids from having to wear masks for protection.
"Nobody likes wearing masks," Jha said. "I find them annoying. I think the idea that somehow you know kids are going to have negative long-term effects of it, I'd like to see some evidence of that."
The Delta variant is also causing high numbers of children to become infected, and as children under the age of 12 are not eligible for vaccines, there must be ways to protect them, he added.
"In places with high levels of transmission, we don't want kids getting infected," said Jha. "The data on kids and long-term effects of COVID are also pretty concerning."
There is one way to get rid of masks, though, said Jha, and that is to get vaccine numbers up.
"If we get lots of people vaccinated, if we get mandatory vaccinations for teachers, we get infection numbers down," said Jha. "We can get rid of the masks for kids, and no matter how we think about this, this should be temporary. This should not be a long-term issue."
COVID-19 cases are continuing to spiral because of the Delta variant of the disease, and Jha said that a peak of cases should occur "sometime in the next month or two," but the exact timing isn't certain.
"The short answer is, we don't know," said Jha. "My hope is that it's in the next few weeks. That may be by the end of this month. There are a couple of different models out there. One says sort of by the end of August, and the other one says, maybe not until the end of September."
Jha also on Tuesday said it's "not helpful" to pin a political label on the vaccination issue.
"Turning this into a Republican versus Democrat thing is dumb," said Jha. "It is not helpful. I certainly have not tried to do that. We do see large variations by all sorts of demographic groups. Younger people, for instance, are less likely to be vaccinated. And yes, we do see lower levels of vaccinations in the African-American community and that's a problem and we have got to figure out what's holding people back."
He also agreed that testing and quarantines should be in place for people coming across the border from Mexico, as "they should not be treated any differently than everybody else in America."
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