CDC director Rochelle Walensky was pressed on Friday whether she supports or is planning a federal vaccine mandate, as the Biden administration publicly laments the continued reluctance of vaccines in parts of the country.
Walensky told “Special Report” presenter Bret Baier that she and President Biden were “considering” whether or not to establish a mandate.
“Are you in favor of imposing a vaccine at the federal level? Baier asked.
“This is something I think the administration is looking into. This is something that I think we are looking to see vaccine approval for, ”Walensky replied.
“Overall, I think in general I am for more vaccination. But, I have nothing more to say about it except that we are looking at these policies. “
Walensky added that all vaccine mandates currently in place are strictly at the local or company level.
In response, Baier asked what Walensky would say to the crowd of Americans who think they should have full control over what happens to their bodies and what they inject, whether for religious reasons, personal or other.
“I fully understand the hindsight,” she replied, adding that the COVID vaccine would not be the first vaccine to be mandatory for institutions like public schools and others – because of polio, whooping cough and other vaccines are already standardized.
She said that as the former chief epidemiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, her mandate was to get the flu shot every year so she could keep her job.
“I understand both views,” she said, adding that when it comes to medical staff reluctant to receive the vaccine, this dynamic is simply the product of a “heterogeneous country”.
“Some people didn’t have access to it. Some people did not have time off. Some people don’t understand its benefits. Some people worry about side effects. So I think we will try to provide information to people who are not yet vaccinated, ”she said, adding that the CDC needs to take responsibility for understanding vaccine reluctance and respond with information. likely to convince these people to the contrary.
Walensky pointed to the VAERS Reporting System, a web portal highlighted by Fox News host Tucker Carlson in recent months that allows Americans to self-report unverified side effects of any current vaccine.
“We are monitoring this with extreme care across many different security systems,” Walensky said, citing VAERS and other reporting systems that pass information between hospitals and the federal government.
She told Baier that there had been “very rare signals” of adverse data and had summarily investigated them.
“What I would say is that we have vaccinated 164 million Americans. So we have an extraordinary amount of data since December when we started to vaccinate people, ”she said. “So I have extraordinary confidence in the safety of these vaccines. “
Baier also lobbied Walensky over concerns that the government will continue to issue mitigation guidelines and executive orders to Americans, as there are continued reports of untested, unvaccinated or symptomatic illegal immigrants crossing the region. Texas border from Mexico as the crisis intensifies there.
He presented the case of a viewer whose family lives in Austria and was unable to visit him due to EU and US restrictions, but watched coverage of migrants continue unhindered in this regard in the United States.
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In a recent case, a customer at a burger restaurant in La Joya, Texas alerted authorities after a migrant family was seen wheezing and unmasked. It was later discovered that Catholic Charities had booked a group of border patrol-released migrants, some symptomatic, to a nearby motel without either organization notifying Texas officials.
Walensky responded that the CDC offered “technical assistance” to officials at the southern border and still issued “infection prevention guidelines” for migrants and others in those areas.
But, she went on to say that the “fairly high” infection rate in the southern states cannot be entirely attributed to the border crisis:
“I think what we really need to do is spend our time getting our communities vaccinated to get our individuals vaccinated to prevent disease transmission in our communities. “
Baier also asked Walensky why there had been such a wait for the formal approval of the vaccine by the Food & Drug Administration – which is technically still under “emergency use authorization”.
Under the EUA statute, the FDA allows the use of “unapproved medical products” or their “unapproved use” for mass treatment in emergency situations – when “there is no ‘adequate, approved and available alternatives’.
“I don’t know the schedule or the plans of the FDA. I’ll leave that to the FDA altogether, ”Walensky replied.
“What I do know is that due diligence on science and review and epidemiological data needs to be done, and the FDA is working hard to do it. “
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Walensky then lobbied critics across the country who are frustrated or worried that their young children are being forced to wear masks at school, as well as concerns from other parents who fear another year of online learning. outside the classroom.
Baier noted that AFT Union President Randi Weingarten gave what “sounds like a maybe” about the reopening of public schools for the 2021-22 school year:
“Who are the advocates for children and parents, which teachers ‘unions have not been at least in this particular issue,” he asked, noting that public schools and teachers’ unions are one ” stakeholder ”in CDC decisions in this regard.
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“What we have seen in schools is that when children come to schools with an illness in the community, it can spread in schools if the children are not masked,” Walensky replied. “And so when we have high rates of disease in the community, we will see cases in schools. “
“These children are going back to homes where they have parents. They have immunocompromised parents. They have other children in the household. the native continued, adding that she understands parents’ concerns as a mother of three herself.