California To Require Students To Receive COVID-19 Vaccine After FDA Approval
As part of a plan announced by Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday, vaccination requirements will be phased in in groups. Students in grades 7 to 12, most of whom are already eligible for the vaccine, will need to be immunized by January 1 or July 1, whichever comes first, once the vaccine has obtained full approval from the vaccine. the FDA.
Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has Federal Drug Administration Emergency Use Clearance for children 12 to 16 years of age. The pharmaceutical company recently applied for clearance for children as young as 5 years old.
A mandate for all school staff will also come soon, Newsom said. Currently, school staff can choose between vaccination or a regular COVID-19 test.
“We hope this will encourage people to get vaccinated,” the governor said at a San Francisco school on Friday. “We have no apprehension, no hesitation in encouraging local districts to move forward more quickly.”
California Teachers Association president E. Toby Boyd said in a statement the union supports the move as the “next step” to slow the spread of COVID-19 in schools in addition to testing and other security measures.
“While recognizing the need for medical and religious exemptions, we believe vaccinations are essential for the safety of students and educators, keeping our schools open for in-person instruction and to fight this pandemic,” Boyd wrote. .
The vaccination requirement for students will include medical and personal or religious exemptions, but the California legislature may pass legislation to end the personal / religious belief exemption.
Vaccination of California schoolchildren is currently regulated by Senate Bill 277, passed in June 2015. The legislation was prompted by a measles outbreak at Disneyland in 2014 that ultimately infected more than 150 people from eight different states, from Mexico and Canada.
The legislation also provided for several options for adding vaccines to the mandatory list. The state legislature could pass a new law or change the law at any time, choosing to add a new vaccination with or without a personal creed exemption.
Alternatively, a clause in the law authorized the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to mandate new vaccines, taking into account advice from health experts. But if a vaccination is so added to the schedule, the law states that exemptions from personal beliefs must be offered to parents and students.
A number of California school districts have announced their own plans to require vaccinations, including Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and Culver City. Los Angeles and San Diego have both seen protests from the board votes to allow the vaccine requirements.
A group of parents recently sent a letter to the San Diego Unified School Board threatening legal action over the district’s vaccination mandate for students 12 and older.
The letter says the group “strongly believes that the decision to vaccinate a child against COVID-19 should be made only by the child’s parents, after consultation with the child’s doctor, and not by a school or individual school district ”.
Parents also argue that school districts do not have the power to demand new vaccines for students, although a statewide mandate may undermine that argument.
Legal experts said individual school districts could face legal challenges without state action.
Leslie Jacobs, professor of constitutional law at the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento and director of the Capital Center for Law & Policy, said lawyers “still” expect to see constitutional challenges to vaccine warrants. In the case of school immunization warrants, she said these challenges “should not be strong” and are unlikely to end in court given past rulings.
Ultimately, it is unclear where the courts would go on the matter. Jacobs said schools requiring COVID-19 vaccination are “pushing the boundaries” legally.
Sasha Hupka contributed to this story.
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