by Olga Rodriguez and Adam Beam | The Associated Press
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday announced the nation’s first coronavirus vaccination mandate for school children, a plan that will have all elementary through high school students, once the vaccine gets final approval from the US government for different age groups. Will go
The government has fully approved the COVID-19 vaccine for people 16 and older, but only granted an emergency authorization for anyone 12 to 15. Once federal regulators fully approve the vaccine for that group, the state will require students in seventh to 12th grades. Vaccinations in both government and private schools, Newsom’s office said.
The state will require a COVID-19 vaccine for students in kindergarten through sixth grade only after the federal government has given final approval for anyone ages 5 to 11.
The announcement comes as infections in much of California have decreased markedly over the past month. But Newsom was encouraged last month after defeating an effort to ease the recall after a campaign where he emphasized his commitment to a vaccine mandate to end the pandemic.
In Los Angeles County – the nation’s largest, with more than 10 million residents – only 1.7% of people tested for the virus have it and daily infections have halved in the past month, when most children went back to school. Were.
“These numbers are surprisingly low, as more than 3,000 schools are now open across the country,” County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Thursday.
She noted that although there has been a slight increase in the number of outbreaks in schools in recent weeks, the total number is low and is largely related to youth sports.
The state’s vaccine mandate will take effect the semester after the federal government receives final approval. If it comes in January, the mandate will take effect in July.
Students will be given religious and medical exemptions, but the rules for how the state will enforce those exemptions are yet to be written. Any student who refuses to take the vaccine will be forced to complete an independent study course at home.
Until now, Newsom had left decisions on student vaccine mandates to local school districts, receiving a variety of different orders in some of the state’s largest districts.
Los Angeles and Oakland Unified have mandated vaccinations for all students over the age of 12, but Oakland’s order has not determined when students must comply. LA set a January 20 deadline.
Earlier this week, the San Diego Unified School Board approved a mandate that staff and students aged 16 and older be fully vaccinated by December 20.
Newsom has made it a matter of pride to be the first in the country to issue school mandates related to a variety of pandemics.
In August, California became the first state in the US to require all teachers and staff in K-12 public and private schools to undergo vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing. Newsom also issued a school mask mandate for indoor classes that applied to all teachers and students earlier in the summer.