On Oct. 1, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state of California would become the first state in the nation to require the COVID-19 vaccine for school children. The mandate will go into effect on either Jan. 1, 2022 or July 1, 2022, following the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine.
“Today’s measure, just like our first-in-the-nation school masking and staff vaccination requirements, is about protecting our children and school staff, and keeping them in the classroom. Vaccines work.” Newsom said in a state order. “It’s why California leads the country in preventing school closures and has the lowest case rates. We encourage other states to follow our lead to keep our kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
The mandate will affect all school children from kindergarten to 12th grade in the state’s public, charter and private schools. There are medical and religious or personal belief exemptions but students who refuse vaccination without an exception are forced to do independent study.
The vaccination requirement will be phased based on grade level, K-6 and 7-12, in order to “promote smoother implementation.”
Currently, California has the lowest COVID-19 numbers in the whole country and the state has one of the lowest school closures numbers in the whole country. While California accounts for 12% of the nation’s students, there have been only 14 school closures out of the 2,000 closures in the entire country.
As for vaccination rates, 84% of people ages 12 and older have gotten at least one shot with 70% fully vaccinated. However, only 63.5% of children ages 12 to 17 have received a dose. Current projections predict that the requirement for the 7-12 grade range will start on July 1, 2022.