SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the nation’s first coronavirus vaccination mandate for schoolchildren on Friday, saying all high schoolers after receiving a vaccine from the US government for different age groups Elementary students get shots.
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 it for that group, the state will require seventh to 12th graders to be vaccinated. in both government and private schools. Newsom said he expects that requirement to be met by July 1.
California will require a COVID-19 vaccine for students in kindergarten through sixth grade after receiving final federal approval for children ages 5 to 11.
“We want to end this pandemic. We are all tired of it,” the Democratic governor told reporters at San Francisco Middle School.
The announcement comes as infections in much of California have decreased markedly over the past month. Newsom has been encouraged after easily defeating a recall effort after a campaign last month 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 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 for school children 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 implement them are yet to be written. Any student who refuses to take the vaccine will be forced to complete an independent study course at home.
By 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. Five districts in California have implemented their requirements, including Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the country, set to take effect in January.
Newsom’s plan does not override those districts’ plans, adding that school districts can “accelerate” the requirements.
Dr. Peter Ann Bretton, president of the California Medical Association, said the organization “strongly supports” the governor’s decision.
“This is not a new idea. We require vaccines against many known deadly diseases before students can enroll in schools,” he said. “The Newsom Administration is expanding existing public health protections to cover this new disease. Which has caused so much pain and suffering in our state, our country and the entire world in the last 18 months.”
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 to have all teachers and staff in K-12 public and private schools vaccinated or undergo 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.