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What's next for Northeast Ohio school districts following full approval of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine?

Will area schools change their requirements? 3News' Marisa Saenz spoke with several local districts to see if there may be a vaccine policy change.

CLEVELAND — The FDA gave full approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine Monday, potentially boosting public confidence in the shots and instantly opening the way for more universities, companies and local governments to make vaccinations mandatory.

Will area schools change their requirements?

Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine pushed for masks and vaccinations as students were heading to school. Ohio 's Department of Health reports that over 62% of eligible 12 to 18-year-olds remain unvaccinated.

RELATED: As classes return, 62.5% of Ohio's eligible 12-18 year-olds unvaccinated

"The way we keep them in school this year, is to keep them masked and vaccinated when they can be vaccinated, that really is the message," DeWine said during his briefing last week.

Starting October 13, public schools and universities in Ohio cannot mandate a vaccine that doesn't have full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. This is from House Bill 244, which was signed into state law in July. 

With the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine full approval, 3News reached out to several school districts across Northeast Ohio, asking if there will be updates to vaccine policies. 

  • Parma City Schools says there is no vaccine policy for students and staff.
  • Akron Public Schools will not require vaccines for students and staff.
  • A spokesperson for Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools said in a statement that House Bill 244 is playing a role in any future policies. The district is seeking guidance from attorneys and the health department.

The Pfizer vaccine is for anyone 16 years of age or older. Even amongst other vaccines, children younger than 12 remain unable to receive an emergency authorized shot. 

However, Dr. Shelly Senders, who has been a part of vaccine trials for children for two decades, believes emergency use authorization is just around the corner for children aged five to 11.

"Most of us believe that an EUA for that age group is likely to be somewhere around Thanksgiving time," Dr. Senders tells 3News. She believes that full approval for the Moderna vaccine is "just weeks away."

Both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have announced that they are seeking full approval for their COVID-19 vaccine shots as well. 

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