Editorial: Will CT need to mandate vaccines for children?

Miguel Chavez and his son, Nico, 9, order dinner on an app as his wife, Renee, interacts with their daughter, Sofia, 6, at their home in Castro Valley, Calif., on Monday, September 20th, 2021. The Chavez children were enrolled in a COVID-19 vaccine trial at Stanford.

Miguel Chavez and his son, Nico, 9, order dinner on an app as his wife, Renee, interacts with their daughter, Sofia, 6, at their home in Castro Valley, Calif., on Monday, September 20th, 2021. The Chavez children were enrolled in a COVID-19 vaccine trial at Stanford.

Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle

It seems fitting that Halloween is being designated as the possible arrival date of a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11.

It has always been a day of choices, a prelude to the grown-up version called Election Day.

Trick, or treat?

No vaccine, or vaccine?

In both cases, the ultimate decision is made by adults. Has it ever been more important to make the correct grown-up choice?

Too many adults have made poor decisions in recent months by scoffing at the opportunity to get vaccinated against the most serious public health crisis of their lifetime. Parents will soon be in a position to ensure their children get vaccinated, as Pfizer has announced this week that its vaccine works for children ages 5-11.

All that’s needed now is the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration — along with the cooperation of families.

The vax deniers — and there are millions of them in the United States — can distract from the reality that there are far more parents who are excited about this announcement. These parents have only become more anxious as the delta variant has spurred a surge in pediatric cases across the nation. To date, some 5 million children in the United States have tested positive for COVID-19.

Most parents do want the same thing — to send their children to school without masks and without the possibility they will be sent back home for another spell of virtual learning.

Just a few weeks into the new school year (as of Sept. 16), 751 Connecticut students had tested positive for COVID-19. Of those students 657 were not vaccinated. An additional 126 staff members tested positive as well (28 of whom were unvaccinated).

“We’re ready,” Gov. Ned Lamont said of the news of the vaccine for younger students.

We’re not. Those unvaccinated school staffers foreshadow the inevitable struggle to get this vaccine to every child. For years, we have written editorials encouraging readers to get vaccinated for the flu. Every year too many people avoid that shot. It’s not perfect. No vaccine is. But it helps.

Before COVID became part of our daily lives, in March of 2020, anti-vaccine protesters were storming the state Capitol to protest legislation on school mandates. After the COVID shot was unveiled earlier this year, police in Hartford were seizing counterfeit vaccine cards at another rally.

As of last week the rate of fully vaccinated Connecticut children between ages 12 and 15 was at 67 percent. That’s barely a passing grade.

Yes, many people are ready to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible. But we need to accept that many will vehemently resist this next phase.

Lamont hinted at the possibility of a mandate for children. It should not have to come to that. But we are not truly ready until the overwhelming majority of residents see the wisdom of the best defense against a merciless pandemic that has infested society, along with American education.

So let’s get ready.