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California Schools to Require COVID-19 Vaccination

Governor Gavin Newsom announced on October 1, 2021, that California will require children attending schools in the state to be vaccinated against the disease just as they are for a host of other ailments once federal regulators fully approve the shots for their age groups.

Newsom said the requirement will roll out in phases for grades 7-12 and then for grades K-6. It will become effective in the school term following full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the vaccine for children in those grades, he said. The administration expects it to apply to grades 7-12 next July. The requirement doesn’t apply to child care or colleges.

In August, the FDA granted full formal approval of the Pfizer shots for children ages 16 and older after the company provided evidence from extensive trials demonstrating its safety and efficacy. In May, the FDA granted emergency use authorization, an expedited process, for Pfizer’s two-shot vaccine for for children ages 12-15, and full approval could come before the end of the year.

The emergency approval process has only just begun for children ages 5-11. The Moderna and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines remain under emergency use authorization only for adults ages 18 and older.

District officials in Fremont, San Leandro and Alameda said Friday they’re reviewing the announcement and will be prepared to implement it. Newsom said the statewide vaccine requirement does not prevent school districts from moving forward with their own requirements sooner.

A number of school districts already have required their eligible students 12 and older to get the vaccine, starting with Culver City Unified in Los Angeles County which adopted a policy in August. Four Bay Area districts have since adopted student vaccine mandates — Oakland, Hayward, Piedmont and West Contra Costa Unified.

Though children around the world are being vaccinated against COVID-19, the question of whether they need it, or if it is safe, has been hotly debated. Critics have pointed to a rare but dangerous side effect — heart inflammation — seen most often in boys and young men following the second Pfizer or Moderna shot, and note that healthy kids rarely suffer serious COVID-19 illness, which mostly kills the elderly. Many European countries have called for giving kids 12 and up only one of the two shots.

In the U.S., regulators concluded the vaccines are safer for kids than COVID-19, and note that children can also spread the disease to those who are more vulnerable.

Newsom said the vaccine requirement also will apply to teachers and school staff in the first phase of its implementation for higher grades. California in August required that school teachers and staff be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19, but the testing option will be dropped when the first phase of the student requirement starts.

Excerpted from “Newsom: California schools to require COVID-19 vaccination” in the Mercury News. Read the full article online.

Source: Mercury News | Newsom: California schools to require COVID-19 vaccination, https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/10/01/newsom-state-schools-to-require-covid-19-vaccination/ | Copyright ©2021 MediaNews Group, Inc.

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