California is the first state in the country that will require schoolchildren to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday.
The statewide requirement adds to “a well-established list that currently includes 10 vaccinations,” Newsom said at a press conference. “We want to get this disease behind us.”
The mandate will apply to all who receive in-person instruction, Newsom said, and will begin in the first school term that follows full authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine for children by the US Food and Drug Administration — either in January 1 or July 1, 2022.
The first phase will apply to children in grades 7 through 12, after which the requirement will extend to those entering kindergarten.
Medical and religious exemptions will be consistent with those for other vaccines, Newsom said.
In August, the FDA issued a full authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, approving its use for all ages 12 and above. It is expected to authorize the vaccine for children over the age of 5 before the end of the year.