COVID-19 vaccine mandated for California schools

On Oct. 1, California became the first state to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for schools. This mandate affects grades seven through 12 and applies to all schools, public and private. However, it will only affect students once the vaccine is fully authorized for ages 12 and above. The mandate could be in effect by July 1, 2022 or Jan. 1, 2023.

As of right now the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is emergency authorized for ages 12-15, and is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for ages 16 and older. However, the vaccine needs to be fully approved for ages 12 and 15, and not just emergency authorized, for the mandate to go into effect for grades seven through 12.

When this mandate does go into effect, every student attending school will need to be vaccinated. The unvaccinated students will have the options of enrolling in an online school or being homeschooled.

The vaccination mandate for California is unlike other vaccination mandates for schools because students and staff can opt-out of the COVID-19 vaccine with a personal belief exemption or a medical exemption and still go to in-person school. For someone to use the medical exemption, they would need a note from their licensed physician stating the reason for the medical exemption. The medical exemption reasoning has to also be accepted by the school district. This personal belief exemption is more complicated and includes religious and ideological reasons. However, if needed, legislators can make new laws to get rid of the personal belief exemption.

The general information for this article was taken from the “Los Angeles Times,” and “CalMatters.”