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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (LifeSiteNews) – Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards confirmed this week that he will disregard legislative objections and move forward with requiring public school students in the Bayou State to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

The Washington Times reported that the move would add the COVID-19 vaccine to the state immunization schedule for any age groups for which they have been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, meaning its scope will broaden as the FDA approves the shots for younger children. Edwards claims the exemptions in existing state law suffice to ensure that “no child will be forced to be vaccinated against the will of his or her parents.”

“The development of the COVID-19 vaccines in time to help us put this pandemic behind us also requires us to do everything we can to add COVID-19 to the list of diseases that no longer pose a serious threat. This rule does just that, and it should remain in place,” Edwards wrote in a letter Tuesday to House Health and Welfare Committee chair Larry Bagley. The committee previously voted 13-2 against the mandate.

To support the mandate, Edwards cited 19 COVID deaths among Louisiana children since the virus reached the United States in March 2020, and claimed no Louisianans have died from the vaccines, despite what he called “misleading and conspiratorial rhetoric” on the matter from committee members.

It remains to be seen how the opt-outs will be honored in practice, but in the meantime Republican state Attorney General Jeff Landry and state Rep. Raymond Crews have filed a lawsuit arguing that the Louisiana Constitution does not allow the governor to make such decisions unilaterally, or the state legislature to delegate to him the power to do so.

The legal battle follows the FDA’s October 29 decision to approve administering reduced doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to children between the ages of five and 11, a move that raised concerns thanks in large part to Dr. Eric Rubin, a member of the FDA’s Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee stating that “we’re never going to learn about how safe this vaccine is unless we start giving it. That’s just the way it goes.”

Data shows that children are at little to no risk from the virus itself. Last summer, a team of researchers with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine “analyze[d] approximately 48,000 children under 18 diagnosed with Covid in health-insurance data from April to August 2020” and found a “mortality rate of zero among children without a preexisting medical condition such as leukemia.” The lead researcher, Dr. Marty Makary, accused the CDC of basing its advocacy of school COVID vaccination on “flimsy data.”

Meanwhile, even experts otherwise friendly to the new shots — as acknowledged in July by the left-leaning publication Wired — argue that the potential for vaccine-related myocarditis among young males undermines the public health establishment’s persistent refrain that “the benefits of [COVID-19] vaccination far outweigh any harm.”

Vaccine defenders also note that this one-year development period was not starting from scratch, but rather relied on years of prior research into mRNA technology; and that one of the innovations of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed was conducting various aspects of the development process concurrently rather than sequentially, eliminating delays unrelated to safety. However, those factors do not fully account for the condensing of clinical trial phases — each of which can take anywhere from 1-3 years on their own — to just three months apiece.

While cases of severe harm reported to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) after taking COVID shots represent less than one percent of total doses administered in the United States, a 2010 report submitted to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) warned that VAERS caught “fewer than 1% of vaccine adverse events.” May reporting from NBC News quotes several mainstream experts acknowledging “gaps” in federal vaccine monitoring.

More generally, data indicates that widespread dissemination of the vaccines has failed to end the COVID pandemic. The federal government considers more than 202 million Americans (almost 61% of the eligible) to be “fully vaccinated” (a moving target given the vaccines’ temporary nature), yet data from Johns Hopkins University reported in October shows that more Americans died of COVID-19 by that point in 2021 (353,000) than in all of 2020 (352,000).

LifeSiteNews has produced an extensive COVID-19 vaccines resources page. View it here