Tennessee gov: COVID vaccines to be optional in K-12 schools

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee puts on his mask during a break in the state budget hearings Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. According to a Vanderbilt University School of Medicine study released Tuesday, Tennessee counties that have not required wearing masks in public are on average seeing COVID-19 death rates double or more compared with those that instituted mandates. Lee has opposed a statewide mask mandate, stressing personal responsibility. He has instead allowed counties to decide whether to require masks. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee says COVID-19 vaccines will be optional in the state’s K-12 public schools, once they become available.

The Republican said at a news conference Tuesday that vaccines will be very important for Tennessee to “ultimately really be able to handle” the virus.

But he said he doesn’t foresee COVID-19 mandates for school districts in Tennessee, saying vaccines are a choice.

The comment comes as Tennessee and the country as at large look toward initial doses of vaccine that could arrive in the next few weeks, amid a surge in the coronavirus that is increasingly straining hospital systems.

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