California becomes 1st US state with COVID-19 vaccine mandate for schools
California became the first state in the United States to announce plans to require student vaccination for COVID-19 by adding the vaccine to the list of vaccinations required for school, such as the vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella.
According to an order approved by Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday, students in the Golden State would be required to be vaccinated for in-person learning after those vaccines against COVID-19 get full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for students.
Newsom's latest order, the first of its kind nationwide, will roll out in two phases, with the first taking effect for students aged 12 and over following full approval by the FDA for that entire age group.
The FDA approved the vaccine for children aged 16 and over in August.
Newsom said California would apply the mandate for students aged 12 and up as early as January 1 next year but possibly as late as July 1 depending on when the FDA authorization takes place, and then would apply the mandate for students under 12 years of age in a second phase after the FDA gives the green light.
"The state already requires that students are vaccinated against viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella - there's no reason why we wouldn't do the same for COVID-19. 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," a statement released by Newsom's office read.
"Vaccines work. 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," he said.
California continues to maintain the lowest case rate in the country and is one of only two states to have advanced out of the "high" COVID-19 transmission category of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
California, the most populous state in the country, reported more than 6 million public school students in April, according to the state's Department of Education.