On Oct. 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handed another huge gift to Big Pharma: In a little-publicized meeting, the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend adding the Covid vaccine to the childhood and adolescent immunization schedule. This makes the Covid vaccine market vast and indefinite—exposing children to unnecessary risks while shielding drug companies from liability.

“There is no reason to inject children with this novel therapeutic.”

Throughout the pandemic, the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration rubber-stamped every iteration of the vaccines that came through the door. So this final outcome is hardly surprising. And yet it still has the power to shock. It never should have come to this. Despite all the “sciencing” that led us here, it is a completely perverse outcome. The Covid bonfire is down to its last fading embers—and now the CDC effectively decrees that every child forever should receive this novel, barely tested, potentially dangerous injection.

The potential profits flowing from this approval are enormous. The Covid injections were all approved under emergency laws that effectively shielded the corporate developers from any liability. This temporary shield would expire in October 2024. When the CDC officially adds the shots to the childhood immunization schedule, all future liability transfers to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, or VICP. The shield extends to adult shots, as well; once the product is covered under VICP, manufacturers become immune against all consumer legal challenges, shifting damages claims to US taxpayers. Having already received FDA approval as “safe and effective,” and with no concern for liability, the manufacturers are free to churn out mRNA injections as they will. Shots and boosters from birth until death, multiplied by every citizen in the nation. Childhood Covid vaccination is the 2021 windfall compounded into eternity.

Children are at minuscule risk from the novel coronavirus and transmit it at lower rates than adults. That much we have known since the early days of the pandemic. Public-health authorities also acknowledge that the Pfizer/Moderna products don’t prevent infection or transmission of the virus, that the mRNA formulation doesn’t grant any lasting immunity, that the benefit of the shot against severe disease is only evident for older patients, and that there are risks of significant adverse events, including heart inflammation, neurological impairment, autoimmune disease, and death. There is no reason to inject children with this novel therapeutic.

Parents have spoken with their feet; the uptake of these injections for children under 11 has been well below what officials were hoping. Despite a massive publicity campaign that likened vaccination to a “super-power” and recruited Sesame Street characters to the cause, by September, only 6 percent of children under 5 had received even a single dose, and fewer than 2 percent were “fully vaccinated.” Dr. Peter Hotez, CNN’s go-to vaccine advocate, thinks the reason is a failure to scare parents enough. As he told The Washington Post, “we haven’t done a good job explaining the long-term developmental consequences of long covid for younger children.” Or, maybe parents can see what is hiding in plain sight: Kids don’t need this shot, and the risk of harm is real.

If Elmo and fun bandaids were the carrots, the childhood vaccination schedule is the stick. While childhood vaccines aren’t mandated per se, states require adherence to a state-determined vaccination schedule as a condition for school enrollment, and have been expanding and tightening these requirements over the last 20 years. Some states may not add the Covid shot to their mandatory schedule, but the routinization of childhood vaccination compliance means that for all but the most contrary-minded, the Covid shot is no longer a matter of parental choice in any meaningful sense. There is a glimmer of hope here, though. On Thursday, Twitter was lighting up with the battle cries of furious parents determined to take the fight to their state governments and try to keep the Covid shot off the mandatory schedule. Governors of more than 10 states including Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Tennessee have publicly come out against adding the Covid shot to their school mandates.

Cui bono? It isn’t the kids. They assume all the risk of adverse effects in the name of vaporous and hypothetical benefits that run counter to common sense and observation. The only answer that makes any sense at this point is Big Pharma. It is certainly not the first time that the health and safety of children has been treated as road kill on the path to capital accumulation.

We know who is at risk for serious Covid outcomes: the aged, the infirm, the obese. These are the people who die from Covid; these are the deaths the Covid shot might possibly prevent. Requiring children to get the Covid shot in perpetuity is an inversion of protection and risk. It is the final act in the perverse practice of public health for the last two years that has sacrificed children’s well-being in order to “stop Covid” and “protect the vulnerable.”

It is often said that children are “priceless,” that “the children are our future.” But the people in charge don’t act like they believe it. The most recent bivalent booster was never tested on children. In fact, it was never tested on any human. Which might be fine for adults, who can decide for themselves whether an antibody response in the eight mice Pfizer bothered to test is good enough. Now, children in many states won’t really have that option. Forcing this drug on children via the childhood vaccination schedule is, at best, a reckless disregard for the well-being of some of society’s most vulnerable members.

Something beyond recklessness and corporate greed is coming into the light as the Covid endgame plays out on children’s bodies. The harm isn’t accidental, even if it is dressed up in the white coat of medicine. It is the price that must be paid to “end Covid,” to regain security and safety—not for children, but for adults who quiver at the prospect that some day they will have to die, and who look to the miracles of science to beat back the ravages of time and decay. If children matter at all these days, it is only as raw material to be consumed in a desperate grasp at a quickly vanishing immortality.

Samira Kawash is a professor emerita of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers University.

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