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Why doesn’t Utah A.G. Sean Reyes want the COVID-19 vaccine on the CDC’s child immunization list?

The letter to federal health officials from Reyes and other GOP attorneys general is the latest effort by the state’s top law enforcement official to oppose Biden administation efforts on behalf of Utahns.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes speaks in his office about a lawsuit filed by Utah and other states against Google, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. On Oct. 21, 2022, Reyes joined 10 other GOP attorneys general calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not to include the COVID-19 vaccine on a list of child immunizations.

Utah’s top law enforcement official doesn’t want the COVID-19 vaccine to be added to a list of child immunizations recommended by federal health officials.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes joined 10 other Republican attorneys general in a letter to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention asking the agency not to include the coronavirus vaccine on its list of vaccines for children.

The letter was signed Friday, the day after the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended an update to its child and adult immunization schedules, which included new information on approved COVID-19 vaccines, according to a news release from the CDC.

They also asked the CDC not to include the pandemic vaccine in their Vaccines For Children program (VFC), which, according to the CDC, provides no-cost vaccines to qualifying children who are unable to pay for a vaccine.

“CDC only makes recommendations for use of vaccines, while school-entry vaccination requirements are determined by state or local jurisdictions,” the CDC news release said on Thursday. Further, the CDC said the recommendation represents another step in the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.

“It’s important to note that there are no changes in COVID-19 vaccine policy, and today’s action simply helps streamline clinical guidance for healthcare providers by including all currently licensed, authorized and routinely recommended vaccines in one document,” the federal health officials wrote.

In their letter, the attorneys general said they are “very concerned” about the CDC’s recommendation, which, they argued, isn’t necessary for young children because kids have lower mortality rates when it comes to the coronavirus compared to other age groups.

“States have traditionally relied heavily on these lists to inform their vaccination policies,” the letter said. “As a result, in many states, your decision is unnecessary and subjects children to retaliation for their parent or guardian’s decisions to decline this vaccination.”

The attorneys general also alleged that “The COVID-19 vaccine does not provide the same protection against life threatening illnesses. Instead, it could put more kids at risk instead of protecting them which is the purpose of the (VFC).”

In addition to Utah, other state attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas also signed onto the letter.

Other federal efforts

The letter opposing the CDC recommendation is the latest dispatch or lawsuit that Reyes has supported on behalf of Utahns in opposition to federal efforts in just the past two months.

Earlier this month, Reyes joined 20 other attorneys general by opposing a push by the U.S. Department of Transportation to require all states and Puerto Rico to reduce on-road CO2 emissions to net zero by 2050.

“The coalition of attorneys general argues that Congress has not given the (U.S. Department of Transportation) authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions,” according to a news release from Reyes’ office.

Another letter Reyes signed called on President Joe Biden to rescind his executive order aimed at promoting access to voting. The executive order was characterized by the attorney general’s office as a way for the executive branch to “utilize all federal executive agencies’ power, resources, and reach to carry out voter registration and voter mobilization activities.”

“The state chief legal officers’ opposition is based on law, noting that the U.S. Constitution does not provide this power to the executive branch and arguing that this responsibility falls on state legislatures,” says a news release from Reyes’ office.

In September, Reyes also signed onto a legal brief against the Department of Justice following the FBI seizure of documents from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. The brief hoped to block the Biden administration from using the recovered documents as part of investigating Trump’s handling of classified materials until after a court-appointed representative could review the documents.

Reyes later joined a handful of other attorneys general in trying to block South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s testimony in a Georgia investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. His efforts surrounding the 2020 election recently caused a legal group to file an ethics complaint to the state, but Reyes was cleared of wrongdoing after similar allegations in the past.

On Sept. 20, Reyes announced that he had joined 24 other states that opposed the creation of a Merchant Category Code — a code used by credit card companies that describes a seller’s primary business — for gun purchases.

The letter — addressed to the CEOs of American Express, Mastercard, and Visa — argued the code could be used to create a “list of gun buyers,” and “creates the obvious risk that law-abiding consumers’ information will be obtained and misused by those who oppose Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights.”

Reyes also announced last month that he had joined an effort to resist the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX, which would bar discrimination based on gender identity. In a news release, the attorney general’s office argued the proposed change “infringes on parental rights and conflicts with the text, purpose, and longstanding interpretation of Title IX.”

The attorney general office’s announcement came just weeks after a Utah judge blocked the state from enforcing a ban on transgender girls from competing in sports.