BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Department of Health won’t be adding the adding COVID-19 vaccine to the school immunization schedule in the fall.

The announcement was first made at the Louisiana legislature by Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Fred Mills and later confirmed by LDH.

In a release Wednesday afternoon, LDH says its official recommendation remains that all eligible children receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

LDH said, “While we strongly recommend all eligible children be vaccinated against COVID-19 now, if they have not already been so, we are making this decision to give families and schools the time they need to prepare accordingly.”

“LDH began the standard process of adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the school immunization schedule, we expected more age groups would have full FDA approval in advance of the 2022-2023 school year. The FDA has not yet fully approved the COVID-19 vaccine for those under the age of 16; therefore, at the start of the 2022 school year, students in Louisiana will not be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. We have the utmost confidence in the rigorous FDA processes; however, they do take time.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), vaccinating your children ages 5-17 is the best way to protect them against COVID-19. 

In its news release, LDH also pointed to recent data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which revealed that COVID-19 was the fourth leading cause of death among children ages 5-14 and young people ages 15-24 in January 2022.

According to LDH, 21 children have died due to COVID-related causes since March of 2020, and none of the young victims were up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations. 

LDH also said it has confirmed 331 cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) — a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. MIS-C is strongly linked to COVID-19 infection and vaccination appears effective at reducing the likelihood of developing MIS-C. 

LDH concluded its news release with a sobering statement, “Unfortunately, COVID-19 continues to spread in Louisiana. The COVID-19 lull we enjoyed following the Omicron surge earlier this year is starting to reverse itself. While hospitalizations remain low at this time, cases, percent positivity, and emergency department visits for COVID-like illness are all increasing statewide.”