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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Why Los Angeles Delayed Its Mandate to Vaccinate Students

In at least one important metric, the Los Angeles School District’s plan to vaccinate students 12 years of age and older has been successful, with nearly 90 percent of those students meeting the mandate three months after the mandate was announced.

Nonetheless, the Los Angeles Unified School District – the first major district in the United States to require such a mandate – decided to slow down this week. Council members, by 6 votes to one, did not enforce the vaccination deadline, originally scheduled for January 10, until the fall of 2022.

This is because the district did not know what to do with tens of thousands of students who were still not vaccinated.

The delay illustrated the challenges that schools across the country could face if they demand vaccinations for children: the lack of good alternatives for students who do not adhere to regulations and the resulting ripple effects that can overwhelm district resources, harming even those students who do it. get shot.

The decision in Los Angeles seemed to come at the wrong time: Regions of the United States are witnessing a surge in the spread of the Omicron coronavirus, which means schools will likely have to cope with another wave of the pandemic. And vaccines, especially revaccinations, continue to provide protection against serious illness.

“Mandates are valuable, they are helpful, and we know they increase vaccination rates,” said Shira Shafir, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. “But at the same time, the districts must be prepared for the fact that even if they work, they will not necessarily work for 100 percent of all people.”

Los Angeles announced its mandate in September, but officials in other major cities such as Atlanta, Chicago and New York have taken a more cautious approach to schools, preferring instead to wait for full FDA approval of children’s vaccines or citing concerns. that demands can push learners. outside the classroom.

Joe and Charlene Mardesik, whose 12-year-old daughter is in high school in Los Angeles, have said they are willing to withdraw her if the mandate goes into effect next month. The delay, Mr Mardesich said, was “great news.”

“We wanted to learn more about the vaccine and allow it to go through more rigorous testing rather than getting an emergency permit,” he added. “We wanted to wait for the FDA to fully approve this before we said, ‘Okay, now our daughter can be vaccinated.’

The FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in children aged 5 to 15, and it is fully approved for people 16 and older.

The Los Angeles School District said the order has already had a positive effect, even if it does not apply. Megan C. Reilly, interim superintendent, stated last week that 87 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 18 have fulfilled this mandate. (Some of them may have been vaccinated rather than vaccinated, and some families whose children were vaccinated were not counted because they had not yet uploaded vaccination evidence.)

“This is an important milestone,” said Ms. Reilly, “and we still have time to vaccinate!”

Dr. Shafir agreed that the level of compliance was impressive and said it was important to note that the decision to postpone was made for logistical and infrastructural reasons. “This is not done for public health reasons,” she said. “Nothing has changed in either the vaccine or the need for it.”

What has really changed is that officials have realized that the remaining unvaccinated students – some 30,000 – are threatening to overwhelm the district’s resources.

This summer, California lawmakers promoted independent curriculum as an option for children who were reluctant to return to class during the pandemic. In Los Angeles, this has led to a resurgence of interest in City of Angels, a program that has long offered independent study plans, typically to accommodate students with odd schedules, such as health problems or acting.

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The enrollment there increased to 16,000 from 1,300 before the pandemic. And if the mandate were enforced next month, more teachers would be diverted to help launch the independent learning program, which in turn would hurt students who stayed in mainstream schools, according to Jackie Goldberg, a school board member. who voted for the postponement of execution. mandate.

City of Angels parents and students, many of whom have disabilities or weakened immune systems, have already expressed deep disappointment with the program.

“It’s a mess,” Ms. Goldberg said. “It was never intended to replace a school. It was a temporary independent study. “

The school district did not immediately respond to questions about the challenges facing the City of Angels, and its principal did not respond to a request for comment.

“We have not canceled the mandate and I want to clarify this issue,” added Ms Goldberg. “We are postponing execution because it would disadvantage people who obeyed.”

One student council member, George McKenna, voted against the change and said in a meeting on Tuesday that without a mandate, even vaccinated students would be more at risk of infection in the classroom. “We are trying to protect the children in our care,” he said, “and we have the authority to do so.”

“If we postpone the effective date of the requirement, it will weaken the intent,” he added.

Swellen Hopfer, assistant professor of public health and pediatrics at the Center for Viral Research at the University of California, Irvine, interviewed parents of teenagers and found that some cite mandates as the primary motivation for vaccinating their children.

“Health officials and school officials need to be clear about the importance and safety of vaccinations,” she said, adding that they should emphasize the importance of vaccinations now rather than later, especially given the unpredictability of options.

Prior to the vote to defer the enforcement, school board members stressed that unvaccinated students will need to be tested regularly and that the district will continue its outreach efforts to help as many students as possible meet the new deadline.

But Los Angeles is a large county – the second most populous in the country, with over 600,000 students – and even if the vaccination rate for students 12 and older exceeds 95 percent, thousands will still not be vaccinated.

A lot could change before the start of the next school year. For example, full FDA approval of childhood vaccinations would prompt the state to introduce its own mandate by adding coronavirus to the list of diseases that students should be vaccinated against, such as measles and mumps. (This is slated for July, according to the governor’s administration.) And Ms Goldberg said she hopes California will change a law that she says restricts students’ distance learning opportunities and ultimately pushes too many towards self-study. programs that cannot satisfy them. …

But at this point it is still unclear where the unvaccinated students will go after the mandate goes into effect.

Mike Ives made reporting.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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