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Sisters Guadalupe Flores, 15, right, and Estela Flores, 13, left, from East Los Angeles, get vaccinated with the Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine by licensed vocational nurse Rita Orozco at Esteban E. Torres High School in Los Angeles. The city has required all students 12 and older to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to participate in on-campus instruction. Now the state of California is following with its own mandate. Photo by Damian Dovarganes, AP Photo

California Becomes First State to Require Vaccinations for Kids 12 and Up

COVID-19 to Join Mumps, Measles, Rubella on List of Student Shots, It Was Announced Friday, Oct. 1

In another aggressive effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure schools remain open, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 1, announced a vaccine mandate for students ages 12 and older, making California the first state in the nation to require students to be fully vaccinated for in-person instruction.

The mandate would add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required immunizations, which includes mumps, measles and rubella. Newsom issued this order in the aftermath of similar mandates from the state’s largest districts, Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified.

Parents still have some time to get their students vaccinated. The state mandate will go into effect only once the federal Food and Drug Administration fully approves vaccines for those 12 and older. Upon FDA approval, students will have until the start of the following academic term, either January 1st or July 1st, to be fully vaccinated.

The state expects that based on current FDA timelines, students grades 7-12 will be required to be vaccinated by July 1, 2022.

Students who are currently too young to get the vaccine will be required to receive their doses as soon as they reach the required age, but they’ll be given a “reasonable period of time to receive both doses.”

The mandate comes in the aftermath of Newsom’s overwhelming victory in September’s recall election, during which the governor leaned into mask and vaccine mandates.

A survey released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most families nationwide are willing to vaccinate their children. 

California students who do not get fully vaccinated will be required to enroll in independent study, the only alternative to in-person instruction being offered this year.

(This story by Joe Hong first appeared on CalMatters.)

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