California announced the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all elementary through high school students to take effect once the vaccine gains full approval from the US government.
On Friday October 1, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the mandate won’t take effect until the US government has finished fully approving the vaccine for age groups 12 to 15 and five to 11.
“Getting the vaccine is good for the public good. The vaccine will help to ensure that a COVID-19 lockdown doesn’t occur again, but I think FDA full approval is important before it is enforced,” junior Melina Eftekhari said.
The FDA has fully approved the vaccines for anyone over the age of 16 and has given emergency authorization to vaccinate those 12 to 15. Full approval for that age group is likely to come within the next few months. Pfizer and BioNTech said they are seeking FDA emergency use authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11. If authorized, this would be the first COVID-19 vaccine for younger children.
“I respect everyone’s opinion, but I think that they should do some research to inform themselves about the dangers of Covid and that kids in the younger age group are still developing so I think that we should take the time to fully understand the effect [of the vaccine] on them,” senior Elijah Sanchez said.
California law already requires all children enrolled in public and private schools to have 10 immunizations, with exceptions of medical reasons. For the COVID-19 vaccine, California will grant exemptions for medical reasons, plus religious and personal beliefs. The rules for those exemptions will be written after the state hears responses from the public.
“I have mixed feelings because I support the vaccine but not the mandate. People don’t want to vaccinate because of personal beliefs and people shouldn’t be forced to get it, especially if there are other options like Covid testing,” junior Gloria Story said.
The mandate eventually will affect more than 6.7 million public and private school students in the state. A small number of school districts nationwide have already imposed their own vaccine mandates, including California’s two largest districts — Los Angeles and San Diego. As for San Marcos Unified, it was agreed by the Board of Education in their September 29th meeting that they will not be opening discussion about vaccine mandates for students, but they do have plans to follow the guidance of public health officials.