California to mandate vaccines for school children

GIVE IT A SHOT. With the COVID-19 vaccine available for ages twelve and up, many Californians are getting their shots. “I got vaccinated because I wanted to feel safe when I go out and do things that I want to do again,” said freshman Kaleigh Rubio. With a COVID vaccine mandate likely to be enforced in schools in less than a year, more students may follow in this direction. Graphic by Molly Murphey.

Article by Yasmine Sarraf

Along with other schools in California, Santa Rosa High School has returned to on-campus instruction with mask mandates and other COVID-19 precautions in place. To further protect schools from the spread of the virus, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he will require students attending on-campus learning to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in less than a year.

“Even though we’re wearing masks, it’s not as effective as having both the mask and the vaccine,” said Isiac Hernandez, an SRHS freshman.

As of right now, the vaccine is under emergency use authorization for children ages twelve to fifteen, which means that it has not been fully approved for use by twelve to fifteen year olds. Children younger than twelve years of age are currently not eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. Due to this, it is likely that once the FDA fully approves of the vaccine for twelve to fifteen year olds, the mandate will apply only to seventh to twelfth grade students for some time.

Even if the vaccine is fully approved and the state mandates COVID vaccinations in schools, district officials get to decide whether they will enforce the mandate. If the mandate is enforced, students will have until the start of the following academic term to get vaccinated. It is predicted that this will happen for seventh to twelfth graders starting July of 2022, although this is not guaranteed.

“If not everyone is vaccinated, it’s a higher chance of people getting COVID and closing schools again while if everyone is [vaccinated], that lowers the chance big time,” said freshman Riumi Shaine.

Despite this, there are exemptions when it comes to this mandate. A student can be excused from getting vaccinated if they have a medical condition that makes it unsafe for them to do so. Parents also have the option to state that their personal beliefs prevent their child from getting vaccinated. However, many people believe that the personal beliefs exemption should be eliminated and are working to remove it.

If a student remains unvaccinated without either of these reasons, then they will be prohibited from attending on-campus instruction.

Senior Jarrod De Lap encourages students to get vaccinated. “There are some people who can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons or religious reasons and if more people have it . . . it just makes it a lot safer for [unvaccinated people] to go to school.”

Requiring students to be vaccinated against different viruses has been common for decades, and now the COVID-19 vaccine will be added to keep schools safe.

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