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NC panel rejects vaccine mandate for high school seniors

February 2, 2022 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina state health panel declined on Wednesday to require high school seniors to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, a decision that aligns with the wishes of Gov. Roy Cooper and other state health leaders who’ve said such a mandate was premature.

The North Carolina Commission for Public Health voted unanimously against a formal petition from four University of North Carolina system professors to add the vaccine to state immunization requirements for those who are 17 years old or entering 12th grade as of July 1, news outlets reported.

“With information about vaccine doses and booster scheduling still evolving, we believe it is premature for the Commission to codify the immunization,” wrote state Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley, a member of Cooper’s Cabinet.

Over 200 UNC System faculty have also submitted a petition asking the commission to mandate the vaccine for all students at colleges and universities in the state.

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The commission is composed of people elected by the North Carolina Medical Society and appointed by the governor. Commission chairman Dr. Ronald May said that while he believes the vaccine saves lives and prevents very serious illness, “I don’t think this is the right time to address this for school-age children, and whether there will be a better time it’s yet to be seen.”

State Assistant Attorney General John Barkley said the commission lacks the authority to require immunizations for college students alone.

Wednesday morning, dozens of parents opposed to the mandate gathered outside the building where the meeting was to be held.