The new policy could come into effect as early as next fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom stated on Friday that the coronavirus vaccine will be added to other immunizations required for attending school, such as measles and mumps, beginning as early as next autumn.
The vaccine mandate will be phased in for public and private schools by grade span – seventh through 12th grades, and then kindergarten through sixth — after the US FDA grants final approval to the matching age group. Mr. Newsom stated that he expects the rule will apply to students in grades seven and up beginning in July 2022.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is now only fully authorized for persons aged 16 and over; however, it is still available for children aged 12 to 15 under emergency use authorization. According to California Governor, more than 63% of Californians aged 12 to 17 have received at least one dose.
He highlighted that widespread vaccination will be important to keeping classrooms open.
“We want to end this pandemic. We are all exhausted by it,” the governor, who has four small children, said.
With Mr. Newsom’s announcement, California would become the first state to require the Covid vaccination for in-person school attendance.
Unvaccinated students would be able to study independently, he said, and restrictions for students with medical and other exemptions will be set in a public rule-making process.
Last month, the Los Angeles Unified School System, the nation’s second largest, became the first major school district to announce a vaccine mandate for children 12 and older who attend school in person, which will go into effect in January.
Culver City and Piedmont school districts have made similar statements. The Oakland school board agreed last month to mandate children aged 12 and up to be vaccinated, while several details, including time, have still to be worked out. In San Diego, kids over the age of 16 must be vaccinated by late December to attend in-person sessions, with mandates for younger age groups in the works pending vaccine clearance.
In California, K-12 students, faculty, and staff are required to wear face masks to school. In August, the state also imposed vaccination requirements for teachers and other school personnel. Other states and districts across the country have followed suit, including Washington State, New York City, and Oregon.
Pfizer and BioNTech revealed last month that their vaccine has been found to be safe and highly effective in young children aged 5 to 11 years, paving the way for the vaccine to be approved for emergency use in younger children as soon as the end of October.
Such mandates are legally permissible and have been affirmed in court.
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