California will require students who attend school in person to be vaccinated against Covid-19 after the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval for their age group, Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Friday.
Newsom’s latest contract, the first of its kind in the country, is rolling out in two phases for students studying in person. The mandate will only come into effect for students 12 and older after the FDA has granted full approval to the entire age group.
Pfizer’s Covid vaccine is currently only approved for use in emergencies for children ages 12-15. The FDA approved the vaccine in August for children ages 16 and 17.
Newsom said California will apply the mandate for students 12 and older as early as January 1, but possibly by July 1, depending on when FDA clears.
Anti-vaccine protesters hold a protest outside the San Diego Unified School District office to celebrate Jan.
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California will then apply the vaccination mandate to students under the age of 12 in a second phase after full FDA approval for that age group has been granted. Pfizer submitted initial study data to the FDA last month for children ages 5 to 11 and announced that it will apply for an emergency clearance in the coming weeks.
The FDA has scheduled a meeting on October 26th to review Pfizer’s request to vaccinate this age group so that they can start giving Covid vaccines to 5-11 year olds by Halloween or shortly thereafter.
“Currently, in the state of California, we’ve given at least one dose to 63.5% of all of our young cohort ages 12-17,” Newsom said at a news conference. “But we have to do more – 84% of all those eligible have received a dose, but for 12-17 we’re not where we need to be.”
California enrolled more than 6 million students in public schools in April, according to the Department of Education.
Newsom issued a weekly test mandate for all unvaccinated school staff on Aug. 11. The governor added that he is awaiting further instructions from the Biden government before issuing a vaccine mandate for all school staff to match the upcoming rollout for students.
Similar test mandates for California and health care workers who refuse to vaccinate also went into effect in early August.