With no fanfare, Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Louisiana Department of Health formally repealed its needless and counterproductive Wuhan coronavirus vaccination requirement for school children, ending a controversy that it never should have started.
Even this was botched. It appeared in the September Louisiana Register that details changes to administrative law, weeks after school had started which subjected children as young as toddlers to the burden. That’s because it was put in the works in May, just after an attempt by the Republican-led Legislature to cancel it, and the excuse Edwards then gave for choosing that timing – that the state kept waiting on full authorization for its use from the federal government – if really the main reason would have been timed better to allow the rule to become final prior to the beginning of classes.
But, because of that publicity, likely almost every school district in the state didn’t press the issue last month – except Orleans Parish, which, along with a very few and Democrat-run districts nationwide, stubbornly kept it in place. Fortunately, state law also allows families to opt out their children, which will blunt the impact of the directive.
Another reason why Edwards climbed down likely was pressure from a suit brought by Republican state Rep. Raymond Crews that would have enjoined the order, with the assistance of GOP Atty. Gen. Jeff Landry. Several times already Landry has challenged Edwards-backed orders as impermissible extensions of executive power, and he has won most of them.
This flexing of executive muscle one was particularly pointless. The rationale has been, as commonly refrained by supporters of vaccine passports, to prevent spread that could harm particularly vulnerable people. However, children very rarely suffer any more than the mildest impact, World Health Organization data confirm, which is why it won’t recommend vaccination for them although it doesn’t rule that out, either. Additionally, WHO notes data are sparse on adverse side effects of vaccines to children even if preliminary data show these no worse than reported heart-related ailments from vaccines, so it can’t definitively factor that into a recommendation of whether to vaccinate.
As well, the fact that a significant portion of children could opt out would minimize the potential to curtail transmission and that vaccination itself didn’t prevent transmission meant the idea of forcing vaccinations onto children in order to protect others was nonsense. And as for the very few adults who might be particularly vulnerable unable to partake of a vaccine, plenty of nonpharmaceutical interventions exist to protect them. The whole effort simply was Edwards following the command and control dictates of his liberal ideology and political fashion to create the impression that big government was good and looking out for people. It had nothing to do with best policy or science.
Still, the vexing problem of rogue districts like Orleans now and another similar situation statewide in the future remain. The Legislature could help out here by making two changes in statute.
First, it could change the current arrangement that allows districts to go beyond state vaccination policy to one where districts can opt out of individual parts, with legislative assent, of the immunization schedule but not go beyond it. Second, it could remove the gubernatorial override of the legislative veto of regulations specifically in the case of immunizations. In both cases, if the science is strong to implement more restrictive immunization requirements, the Legislature undoubtedly will follow that.
No doubt Edwards would veto both changes if brought forward next year. But Gov. Nyet won’t be around after that, and so soon the greatest present obstacle to beneficial change in Louisiana will disappear, to the people’s benefit on this and other issues.