Watch CBS News

Gottlieb says COVID-19 vaccine fight could hurt broader vaccination efforts

Gottlieb says COVID-19 vaccine fight could hurt broader vaccination efforts
Gottlieb says COVID-19 vaccine fight could hurt broader vaccination efforts 05:20

Washington — Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday that the politicization of COVID-19 vaccines could hurt broader vaccination efforts, warning that vaccine rates could decline in the future.

"I do worry about the consequences of the moment we're in," Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer, said Sunday on "Face the Nation." "The fact that now vaccination is something that's dividing us culturally and politically, because I think that's going to have broader implications than just around COVID. I worry that going forward, we're going to see vaccination rates decline as this becomes more of a political football."

Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia, a Republican, told "Face the Nation" that he opposes to implementing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students, citing parental choice, despite the requirement that students be vaccinated against other diseases like measles and rubella.  

"From the standpoint of mandates, I don't believe in imposing upon our freedoms over and over and over," said Justice. "We all want to protect our children, but parents have decisions to make in this situation too."

But Gottlieb noted that schools have had vaccine requirements for students for decades, and said it was "inevitable" that COVID-19 vaccines would eventually be added to the list of required immunizations.

"Look, these are not just individual choices. These are collective decisions and we've always looked at vaccination as a collective decision," he said. "That's why we have a childhood immunization schedule, because your behavior with respect to your choice around vaccination affects your community. That's why I think the right locus of decision-making around these mandates is as local a level as possible. So to the extent that governors and mayors can do this, I think that's going to depoliticize these kinds of decisions."

Last week, California became the first state to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for school children, pending FDA approval of the vaccine for different age groups.

"The state already requires that students are vaccinated against viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella — there's no reason why we wouldn't do the same for COVID-19," stated California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a press release. "Today's measure, just like our first-in-the-nation school masking and staff vaccination requirements, is about protecting our children and school staff, and keeping them in the classroom."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, said Sunday on "Face the Nation" that he agreed with the step that Newsom took, noting that vaccine requirements for schools aren't new.  

"We've been doing this for decades. My own children could not have gone to school if they had not gotten vaccinated with the measles, mumps and rubella," Fauci said. 

In terms of vaccine requirements for private businesses, Gottlieb said he would be "trying to use big carrots rather than sticks."

"There [are] certainly tools that the federal government has at its disposal. But I think when you're getting down to private businesses in states, you want to see those decisions made by the businesses, at the local level," he said. "And I think the federal government could step in with incentives to try to drive that behavior."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.