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California Governor Planning to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines for School Children Grades Seven Through Twelve

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: October 4, 2021
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCT. 01: California Gov. Gavin Newsom talks with 7th grade students at James Denman Middle School on October 01, 2021 in San Francisco, California. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California will become the first state in the nation to mandate students to have a COVID-19 vaccination in order to attend in person classes. (Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Last month, President Joe Biden mandated COVID-19 vaccines for federal government workers and people employed in the healthcare sector. In the state of California, Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom has now announced his intention to make vaccines mandatory for children. However, there is already strong opposition to Newsom’s mandate

A press release issued by the governor’s office said that once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the vaccine for children, all students will be required to be inoculated. The mandate would be applicable to grades seven through 12 and is expected to come into effect by Jan. 1 or, at the latest, July 1.

The governor insisted that his COVID-19 vaccine mandate is aimed at keeping kids “safe and healthy.” California is the first state to announce such a move. The state was the first in the country to implement staff vaccination and school masking measures. 

“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,” Newsom said in a statement

COVID-19 vaccines for 16 and above have already been approved by the federal government. In addition, vaccines for children aged between 12 and 15 are allowed under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). California has the highest rate of vaccination in the entire country, with 84 percent of its citizens above the age of 12 having received at least one shot. 70 percent are fully vaccinated.

Newsom’s vaccine mandate will affect more than 6.7 million private and public school students in the state. The vaccine mandate will provide exemptions for medical, religious, and personal reasons. 

Unvaccinated students who do not get an exemption will be asked to study from home. 

Newsom had defeated his opponent in a recall election last month, which he has apparently interpreted as an endorsement of his COVID-19 vaccine policies.

Policy met with mixed responses

The mandate to vaccinate school children has been met with a mixed response. The California Association of School Boards and the state’s largest teachers’ unions have come out in support of the policy. 

In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Dr. Peter N. Bretah, president of the California Medical Association, stated that Newsom’s mandate is simply an extension of “existing public health protections to cover this new disease.”

But according to Mari Barke, Chair of the Orange County Board of Education, the decision on whether to vaccinate children or not should be left to their parents. Barke said that she is “not proud” that California has become the first American state to issue such a mandate. Instead, she is “disappointed” at the development.

“I believe strongly in parental rights and parents knowing what’s best for their children. This vaccine has had the least testing of any vaccine. It’s not a virus that is killing lots of children unless they have severe comorbidities, and I think it’s government overreach,” Barke told  The Epoch Times. She feels that the mandate might force many parents to pull their kids from school; homeschooling them instead.

Republican Representative Kevin Kiley hit out at Newsom for his double standards on vaccine mandates. “Gavin Newsom just announced a vaccine mandate for K-12 students, days after opposing one for prison guards. California kids made the mistake of not giving millions to his campaigns,” Kelly said in a tweet.