California students will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to attend school once the vaccines have received full approval by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Oct 1.
The government has fully approved the COVID-19 vaccine for individuals ages 16 and older, meaning all upper-class high school students will need to be fully vaccinated to attend both public and private schools.
Only an emergency authorization has been granted for anyone 12 to 15. When the FDA approves the vaccine for that age group, students in seventh grade and up also be required to get vaccinated. The requirement is foreseen to be implemented in the next term, either Jan. 1 or July 1 of 2022.
“What we are announcing here today, a statewide requirement for in-person instruction for all of our children to add to a well-established list that currently includes ten vaccinations and well-established rules and regulations that have been advanced by the legislator for decades. To add to that list, the vaccination for COVID-19, we intend to do that once the FDA has fully approved the vaccine which will give us time to work with districts,” Newsom said during an Oct. 1 press conference.
The governor announced the vaccine mandate at the San Francisco Unified School District alongside state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat.
The governor further announced staff working in K-12 schools will also be required to be vaccinated, and eventually everyone once FDA approval is granted for students in K-6.
Newsom said religious and medical exemptions will be permitted under the state’s mandate.
Wiener applauded the governor’s effort in combating the COVID-19 virus within schools.
“The legislator has shown over and over again that we are willing to pass strong vaccination laws, and if we have to come back and do it again next year, we will do that,” Wiener said.
However, the move drew criticism from some.
“Gavin Newsom just announced a vaccine mandate for K-12 students, days after opposing one for prison guards. California kids made the mistake of not giving millions to his campaigns,” state Rep. Kevin Kiley, a Republican, wrote on Twitter.
“I could be wrong, but I am going to assume that most parents are not going to be OK with their young children (soon to be as young at 5yo) being guinea pigs for the CDC,” or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, added Amber Smith, a former Department of Defense official.
As of Oct. 1, California has administered one dose to 63.5 percent of youth ages 12 to 17, but the governor is aiming for the new requirements to create more of an advanced incentive.
“There is still a struggle to get where we need to go,” Newsom said. “That means we need to do more, and we need to do better … we have continued to lead … California was the first state to require statewide school mask-wearing requirements. We were first in America to require all of our staff to either be vaccinated and or get weekly testing.”