Gottlieb: Potential vaccine mandate for young children 'a long way off'

Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday that vaccine mandates for children were likely "a long way off." 

"I think that's a very long way off," Gottlieb said on CBS's Face the Nation. "The older kids — the high school kids, the middle school kids — do seem to get into trouble more with COVID. It's harder to control in those settings, so that's gonna be considered separately. But even that is, I think, a multi-year effort. I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon."

Gottlieb added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would likely want to study the "post-pandemic" state of affairs in terms of how much the virus transmits and what kind of risk it poses to young children. 

He also noted the need for long-term data surrounding how the vaccines impact children. 

Gottlieb predicted that "12 to 17 could be a couple of years away" and that "five to 11 is even longer than that" in terms of the a timeline for mandates.

He added that his projection was "barring anything unexpected" like a new variant that is difficult to control or has a significant impact on young populations, in which case such measures might be accelerated.  

"Given our current trajectory of where we are and that we are starting to get control of our virus, I think that CDC is going to act very cautiously," Gottlieb said.

The former commissioner also noted that past vaccine mandates for children historically require a "multi-year effort" before being incorporated into the childhood immunization schedule.