At the beginning of the month, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a vaccine mandate for a new population of Californians一K-12 schoolchildren.
Already having implemented other COVID-related policies for students, Newsom’s announcement makes California the first state to implement this specific mandate statewide for both private and public schools. The Governor’s office stated in a press release that, “Newsom announced plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend school in-person when the vaccine receives full approval from the Food and Drug Administration.”
A more detailed description of Newsom’s policy explains that it will be applied to both grades 7-12 and K-6, once the vaccine is fully approved by the FDA for these age groups. “COVID-19 vaccine requirements will be phased-in by grade span, grades K-6 and 7-12 This will also promote smoother implementation.”
The vaccine would act as a contingency for in-person learning. The mandate will not be applied to students who choose to enroll in an independent study. However, students who remained unvaccinated in the independent study will not be permitted to learn in person. The policy does allow students to apply for medical and personal exemptions.
At the time of the announcement, “all K-12 staff [needed] to verify their vaccination status or be tested weekly.” Once the first phase of this mandate is implemented, all staff will be required to take the COVID-19 vaccine too.
Some school districts in California have already taken the initiative to mandate the vaccine for their students. Upon full FDA approval for each age range, “the state requirement will create a statewide standard to ensure all staff and students will be vaccinated.”
Other California school districts have voiced concerns about Newsom’s mandate announcement. The Modesto Bee reported on Stanislaus County Superintendent Scott Kuykendall’s concern of this requirement, explaining that the state should wait for “‘long-term studies and better answers to questions, including appropriate vaccine dosage for younger children and the effectiveness of natural immunity.’” The article also mentions parents’ mixed responses to Newsom’s announcement.
According to the CDC, as of October 16, 680 children ages 0-17 have died from COVID-19. Meanwhile, over 5 million children in the same age group have contracted the virus. Children infected with the virus, therefore, have a survival rate above 99.999 percent. Furthermore, there have been 58,792 total deaths recorded from all causes in the same age range between January 1, 2020, and October. 13, 2021. Simply put, deaths involving COVID-19 represent an incredibly small number of total deaths among children since the start of the pandemic.
In the same age range and time period, there have been 1,018 recorded “Pneumonia Deaths,” 130 “Deaths with Pneumonia and COVID-19,” and 188 “Influenza Deaths.”
Despite what some California public officials might think, considering the threat of COVID-19 for the youth population, along with medical, religious, and personal concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine should not be a requirement to attend in-person learning and instead should be a decision for the student, their parents, and their doctor to make.
Taking the vaccine does not ensure that individuals will not get infected from the virus一breakthrough cases are being reported throughout the nation. Before this requirement takes full effect, Newsom and other California public officials should take these statistics, breakthrough cases, and the students’ and parents’ opinions into account.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.