California will add the Covid-19 vaccination to immunizations required for in-person school attendance, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in San Francisco Friday morning.
It’s the first state to do so.
The requirements will be phased in by grade groups – 7-12 and K-6 – and will start for each group only after the Food and Drug Administration fully approves the vaccine for that cohort, the governor’s office said in a news release.
“We intend to (have the requirement) once the FDA has fully approved the vaccine, which will give us time to work with districts, give us time to work with parents and educators to build more trust and confidence and build out logistics so that we can deliver on what we are promoting here today,” Newsom said.
Students who are in grades that require vaccinations but are younger than the age group FDA approves vaccines for will be required to get the vaccine once they reach the age of full approval, the governor’s office said.
The requirement will go into effect as the start of the term that follows the FDA’s full approval for that grade group – either January 1 or July 1, the governor’s office added in its release.
“Based on current information, the requirement is expected to apply to grades 7-12 starting on July 1, 2022,” the release said. “However, local health jurisdictions and local education agencies are encouraged to implement requirements ahead of a statewide requirement based on their local circumstances.”
The mandate will be a condition of in-person attendance, though independent study is an option for unvaccinated students. The effort aims to protect children and keep them learning in-person, Newsom’s office said.
“This will accelerate our effort to get this pandemic behind us,” Newsom told CNN’s Ana Cabrera minutes after making the announcement. “We already mandate 10 vaccines. In so many ways… it’s probably the most predictable announcement.”
“I have four young kids. I can’t take this anymore. I’m like most parents, I want to get this behind us, get this economy moving again, make sure our kids never have to worry about getting a call saying they can’t go to school the next day because one of the kids or a staff member tested positive,” the governor added.
The FDA authorized Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to include people ages 12 to 15 in May. And in August the agency granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and older.
Late last month, Pfizer and BioNTech said they submitted Covid-19 vaccine data on children 5 to 11 to the FDA for initial review but are not yet seeking emergency use authorization. A formal submission to request emergency use authorization for the vaccine is expected to follow in the coming weeks, the companies said.
Moderna has also submitted data to the FDA for full approval for its Covid-19 vaccine in people ages 18 and up and has requested priority review from the agency. It has also filed with the FDA for emergency use authorization for children 12 to 17.
Johnson & Johnson, whose vaccine has been authorized for people 18 and older, has not yet filed for full FDA approval of its vaccine. The company says it is in “active discussions with regulatory authorities regarding our development plan and trial designs” for teens and children and expects to start trials in the fall.