California becomes first state to require COVID-19 vaccine for all students

California has become the first state to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students who attend in-person learning.

On Friday (Oct. 1), Governor Gavin Newsom announced the new mandate. “We intend to (have the requirement) once the FDA has fully approved the vaccine, which will give us time to work with districts, give us time to work with parents and educators to build more trust and confidence and build out logistics so that we can deliver on what we are promoting here today,” he said.

According to CNN, the new vaccination requirement will be phased in by grade cohorts — 7-12 and K-6 — and will start once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully approves the vaccine for that group.

Students who are in those groups, but under the age will be required to get the vaccine once they reach the age of full approval. The mandate will go into effect at the beginning of the term that follows the FDA’s full approval for that grade group, which is either Jan. 1 or July 1.

“Based on current information, the requirement is expected to apply to grades 7-12 starting on July 1, 2022,” a news release from the governor’s office said. “However, local health jurisdictions and local education agencies are encouraged to implement requirements ahead of a statewide requirement based on their local circumstances.”

So far, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the only one the FDA has fully approved. Approval for the vaccine to be authorized for those ages 5 to 11 could take weeks.

Debra Duardo, the Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools, said she supports the governor’s vaccine order. “Our students deserve stability, access to school-based resources, services, and support,” she said. “We are mindful that there is still work to do to build trust and confidence in the vaccine among our school communities.”

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