Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / Polaris
A nurse gives a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shot to Gizelle Carrillo, 14, at Eagle Rock High School on Aug. 30, 2021.

All California students and school staff will be required to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as January 2022, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday.

The mandate, the nation’s first, applies to all students in kindergarten through 12th grade in public, charter and private schools, and all school employees. It goes into effect in the first semester, either Jan. 1 or July 1, following the Federal Drug Administration’s full approval of the Covid vaccine for each age group. Only the Pfizer vaccine is fully approved for people 16 and older. The Pfizer vaccine also has emergency authorization for use in children between the ages of 12-16.

“We’re mindful we still have work to do, and we are humbled by the challenge. But we want to end this pandemic. We are exhausted, and we want to put this disease behind us,” Newsom said at a middle school in San Francisco as he outlined the state’s plan.

The requirement follows vaccine mandates in several large California school districts for students 12 and over, including Los Angeles Unified, San Diego Unified and Oakland Unified. Newsom encouraged other districts to enact their own mandates ahead of the state’s plan, Newsom said.

Covid vaccines will be among the roster of 10 other vaccinations, such as polio, mumps and tetanus, that the state requires students to receive before starting school.

The requirement still leaves open the possibility for families to opt out. Because the mandate comes from the governor, and not the Legislature, it allows exemptions for medical, religious or personal reasons. Newsom said he’s confident most families will comply.

“The rules are not new; they are well established. In a way, this is the most predictable announcement that we’ve had in this pandemic,” Newsom said. “Every parent is already familiar with these requirements. This is just another vaccine.”

Students who opt out of the Covid vaccine will not be allowed to attend school in person, but they can enroll in independent study.

Teachers unions and public health advocates supported the governor’s move.

“(We) believe that vaccines are essential to ensuring that our students, school workers and communities are safe. We know that in-person instruction is best for our students, and that vaccines are the most important safeguard to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 infection,” said Jeff Freitas, president of the California Federation of Teachers.

He noted that 89% of the union’s members are already vaccinated against Covid.

The Public Health Institute, an independent nonprofit that promotes global health initiatives, praised the mandate but said it didn’t go far enough. Districts shouldn’t wait for full FDA approval, said the organization’s chief executive officer, Mary Pittman.

“California is leading the country in making bold, brave and science-based recommendations that prioritize health and recovery, but we need to act more quickly to protect our students and their families,” Pittman said. “Vaccines are safe, free and the best way to end this pandemic. (Schools) should …  immediately implement vaccine mandates under the current FDA emergency use authorization.”

Debra Duardo, superintendent of schools for Los Angeles County, said the mandate is an important step to keep schools safe for students and staff. To ensure a smooth rollout, she plans to convene a task force of the county’s superintendents to oversee the implementation of the mandate and work with families and health officials.

“We are mindful that there is still work to do to build trust and confidence in the vaccine among our school communities,” she said. “(But students) deserve every opportunity to remain in the classroom learning with their peers, and this is made possible when we move forward and implement those protocols that will allow our schools to remain the safest places for our students, staff, and families.”

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  1. Tiffany 2 days ago2 days ago

    HOMESCHOOL HERE WE COME!

  2. Gina Carlson 2 days ago2 days ago

    What about students who due to health reasons can’t get this vaccine? What are they to do? You are forgetting that there are some people out there who can not get this vaccine.

  3. Laura 3 days ago3 days ago

    Has anyone actually read said mandate? Where can it be found?

  4. Jennifer 4 days ago4 days ago

    All I want to know is the logic behind this: Women have the right to “choose” because it is their body. They can eliminate, murder, kill the unborn without permission from anyone! With that logic in mind, why am I being forced by the state of California to be vaccinated against my will? Freedom of choice? Not!

  5. Alexandra b Huey 1 week ago1 week ago

    We will be homeschooling if the vaccine is mandated!

  6. Bob 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    President Biden is only recommending states to implement the Covid vaccine. Your article implies it is a national mandate (first ever), not true. Additionally states already “mandate” 5 or more vaccines for kids starting school. Why the protest with one more?

  7. Britta Lundberg 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    I will not allow my five and eight year old to get this vaccine! Way too early, not enough trial. I would rather move to a different country before I ever allow my children to get that!

    Replies

    • Emily 1 week ago1 week ago

      Good luck with that. Most industrialized countries in the world are vaccinating everyone as soon as they possibly can. Portugal is 98% vaccinated. Europe, Asia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand all vaccinating and wearing masks. The politicizing of vaccines is an American illness.

  8. kavin 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    We do following safety protocol during pandemic. Also plan to do so till we have covid. My job as a parent is to send healthy kids to school. Schools can do testing on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. What if a kid is not ready to take a jab or parents don't give their consent? It can happen to many families. I am not going into science debut here because it will be a … Read More

    We do following safety protocol during pandemic. Also plan to do so till we have covid. My job as a parent is to send healthy kids to school. Schools can do testing on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

    What if a kid is not ready to take a jab or parents don’t give their consent? It can happen to many families. I am not going into science debut here because it will be a different topic.

    I will not vaccinate my kids. Guess what, I will move my entire family to TX after 20 years of peacefully staying in CA. You believe in science doesn’t mean someone can force me or my child to take something against my wish. Also, when on earth the government starts caring about my well being. You’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise. Always try to find a solution instead of complaining. So I move to a place where we have choice.

  9. simon wilson 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    89% of teachers / staff is not something to crow about!!!
    11% unvaccinated , mandate here fist. No jab, time for a new job

  10. JudiAU 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    This is a fairly weak mandate with many delays and loopholes. I wish something stronger was proposed. Hopefully it will become tighter with legislation. My youngest is so excited to be vaccinated and be done with Covid. Vaccination is basic science.

  11. Saagar Patel 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    Leave our kids alone!!!! Why should any one take a vaccine for an illness that hardly affects the kids?

    Do we still live in a country which is the land of the free and the home of the brave?

    I will choose to do Homeschooling if this comes into effect.

    Replies

    • Emily 1 week ago1 week ago

      Your kids also have to be vaccinated against Polio and Mumps to attend school. They are far more likely to catch COVID. Millions of kids have been infected and a large percentage of those are experiencing long Covid symptoms. Vaccinating is the best way to protect them.

      • Kristy 1 week ago1 week ago

        Emily , I am glad you are confident in the trial Covid Vaccination, I however am not. When a properly vetted Vaccine ( such as MMR, Polio ) is available, I will consider it. Please allow me the right to raise my children as I see best. I have already lost one to cancer. Respectfully, Kristy, fellow passionate mom.

  12. Jay 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    It’s time for the emergency orders to end and for true legislation to pass with checks and balances. The recall was inappropriate and so are the governor mandates without input from the legislative majority and minority parties. A democracy can only survive when the people are well represented while also making the effort to protect minority views. Vaccines have minimized the severity of the virus, but have not stopped the spread as vaccinated people are still … Read More

    It’s time for the emergency orders to end and for true legislation to pass with checks and balances. The recall was inappropriate and so are the governor mandates without input from the legislative majority and minority parties. A democracy can only survive when the people are well represented while also making the effort to protect minority views.

    Vaccines have minimized the severity of the virus, but have not stopped the spread as vaccinated people are still carrying and passing the disease; just like the unvaccinated. Test everyone to see if the spread has slowed.

    It’s time for every adult to speak at local school boards to make sure their opinions are heard. The science has not spoken on the long-term effects only on the effects of one year with proof the effectiveness diminishes. The Supreme Court only ruled in 1905 to enforce a five dollar fine; not irreparable harm of removing children from schools and firing people from their careers.

  13. Megan Schmidt 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    They need to allow testing in liu of… my child is NOT GETTING THE SHOT!!

  14. Tanya S Bray 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    Vaccination is the only way out of this. I am a school nurse and have been active in discussing this with our families. Good for California. I have been waiting for this.

  15. Lynn Bocca 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    I am a teacher. We are ridiculously short staffed this year. Students have no consistency with teachers, no bussing etc. Losing even more staff will DIRECTLY affect their education.
    Oh wait! I’m sure HIS children will get their education. Just creating more segregation between the haves and the have not.

    Replies

    • Diana 1 week ago1 week ago

      I feel bad for the people who genuinely think vaccinations will stop the spread. Please do your research and understand that it lowers your risk of hospitalization, you can still get Covid (in fact 50% of my friends and family who were 2 weeks past their vaccination got covid). I have already had covid and the vaccine's effectiveness wears off according to all the latest research and data collected. I will not … Read More

      I feel bad for the people who genuinely think vaccinations will stop the spread. Please do your research and understand that it lowers your risk of hospitalization, you can still get Covid (in fact 50% of my friends and family who were 2 weeks past their vaccination got covid). I have already had covid and the vaccine’s effectiveness wears off according to all the latest research and data collected. I will not be a test dummy so am no longer allowed to work in schools. We have a nation wide teaching shortage, there are plenty of states that still allow medical freedoms. Funny how my body my choice only applies to one thing, and the same people that support that are awfully quiet now.

      Parents will be pulling their kids for homeschool and those that are left will be with less qualified teachers and burnt out teachers who are stuck filling in the gaps that they shouldn’t have to.

      Why can’t these parents and teachers and the government compromise? Rapid testing at the door to get into school. That would actually stop the spread. Again for those in the back, vaccinated children and adults can still get covid and spread it. We have not been testing them. Same for the poor healthcare workers going on strike look up the Kaiser strike about to happen. All because nobody cared enough to come up with a fair and safe solution. Rapid testing on the way in to all of these work places would prevent the spread and prevent people from worrying. Seems like a simple solution.

  16. Kristie Sepulveda- Burchit 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    “Students who opt out of the Covid vaccine will not be allowed to attend school in person, but they can enroll in independent study.“ Can you fill us in on your source for this statement as the Governor did not say this during his press conference. He never said those who submit an exemption are excluded from in person school. Or did you mean just opt out as in submit no exemption just choose not … Read More

    “Students who opt out of the Covid vaccine will not be allowed to attend school in person, but they can enroll in independent study.“ Can you fill us in on your source for this statement as the Governor did not say this during his press conference. He never said those who submit an exemption are excluded from in person school. Or did you mean just opt out as in submit no exemption just choose not to get the covid vaccine? Please clarify. Thank you.

    Replies

  17. Alice Philips 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    School Counselor here in Oakland. Thank you Governor Newsom for your leadership.

    Replies

    • Jay 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

      A true leader would set the example, which Governor Newsom has not done. Remember, Governor Newsom creates rules for others to follow and his children do not attend a public school. Have his children been vaccinated during one of the trials? If not, then he should not require other parents to do so before his family.

    • Mako 5 days ago5 days ago

      “Leadership” lol he created millions in unemployment, can’t control the homeless population, and is taking bribes from unions to not enforce the mandate to prison guards, but okay “great leadership” when he was found violating his own Covid ordinances.

  18. Tammi 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    It's the only way to stop the spread! I've worked in the Oceanside Unified School District for 20 years and there is a long list of required vaccinations required for enrollment to a California school. Why not require a COVID vaccination? This virus has changed the way we live for almost two years, not to mention all of the deaths. How did we stop polio, measles, etc? Our children got … Read More

    It’s the only way to stop the spread! I’ve worked in the Oceanside Unified School District for 20 years and there is a long list of required vaccinations required for enrollment to a California school. Why not require a COVID vaccination? This virus has changed the way we live for almost two years, not to mention all of the deaths. How did we stop polio, measles, etc? Our children got vaccinated.
    We got vaccinated. It’s science people, you need to stop creating drama about conspiracies and being manipulated. This is bigger than you. What you do affects other people, so stop and consider that for a change.

    Replies

    • Yolanda Gaytan 1 week ago1 week ago

      No conspiracy here, parents still have right concerning their children, just as you had. All previous vaccines were tested for a good many years as a precaution, this vaccine is being pushed on everyone including those who do not want it. You would think with your 20 years in the teaching field, you would care for the safety of the very young who are the innocent ones in this mess. We need … Read More

      No conspiracy here, parents still have right concerning their children, just as you had. All previous vaccines were tested for a good many years as a precaution, this vaccine is being pushed on everyone including those who do not want it.
      You would think with your 20 years in the teaching field, you would care for the safety of the very young who are the innocent ones in this mess.
      We need to take a stand for our children even if it means home schooling!

  19. Sean Roberts 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    Good luck CA Education! Homeschool never sounded SO GOOD. Wonder how many schools will shut down, teachers/janitorial staff/admin/and logistical members will lose jobs, and be forced into unemployment with NO health insurance. No students in the seats equals no need for staff. So according to “Govt” the solution is increased unemployment and decreased healthcare during a pandemic…absolute proof anything Govt touches turns to waste! Whatever happened to “freedom” of choice? … Read More

    Good luck CA Education! Homeschool never sounded SO GOOD. Wonder how many schools will shut down, teachers/janitorial staff/admin/and logistical members will lose jobs, and be forced into unemployment with NO health insurance. No students in the seats equals no need for staff. So according to “Govt” the solution is increased unemployment and decreased healthcare during a pandemic…absolute proof anything Govt touches turns to waste! Whatever happened to “freedom” of choice? Give people the OPTION and there are NO issues. But that would require the Govt to give up their theoretical power haha. Such a joke, and my kids will be homeschooled if this sticks. CA is turning into a wasteland.

  20. James Brooks 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    Does anybody think this is necessary? Are you wishing you had voted yes on the recall yet? This is government overreach. My kids already had covid, it was mild, now they have antibodies. We will not be vaccinating our kids. Time to take a stand.