California first in nation to mandate coronavirus vaccine for children in school

Coronavirus

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference to sign a number of housing bills at the Coliseum Connections apartment complex in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. Newsom signed seven new laws aimed at addressing the state’s homeless crisis during an event in Los Angeles, on Wednesday, Sept. 29. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group via AP)

SAN FRANCISCO — California has announced the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine mandate for school children.

Gov. Gavin Newsom says the mandate won’t take effect until the COVID-19 vaccine has received final approval from the U.S. government for various grade levels.

The government has given final approval for the vaccine for anyone 16 and older. Once final approval comes for anyone 12 and older, the state will mandate vaccines for students in seventh through 12th grades.

The state will mandate the vaccine in kindergarten through sixth grades once the federal government gives final approval for anyone 5 and older.

The state’s vaccine mandate would take effect the semester after the federal government grants final approval. If it comes in January, then the mandate would take effect in July.

Students would be granted religious and medical exemptions, but the rules for how the state would apply those exemptions have not been written yet.

In August, California became the first state in the U.S. to require all teachers and staff in K-12 public and private schools to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Newsom also issued a school mask mandate this summer for indoor classes that applies to all teachers and students.

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