By KAREN VELIE
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that the state will mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for children to attend schools in-person.
The mandate will take effect following the vaccine gaining full federal Food and Drug Administration approval. Initially, the mandate will apply to seventh through 12th grade students. Later, it will apply to kindergarten through sixth grade students.
Newsom’s announcement makes California the first state in the country to declare its intent to require schoolchildren to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Our schools already require vaccines for measles, mumps and more. Why? Because vaccines work,” Newsom stated in a tweet. “This is about keeping our kids safe and healthy.”
While speaking at a middle school in San Francisco on Friday, Newsom said the mandate will contain exemptions for medical reasons and for personal and religious beliefs. Students who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine will be required to complete courses at home.
Newsom’s decision to mandate the vaccine for schoolchildren follows some school districts in the state announcing their own mandates. Newsom encouraged more districts to take similar action to speed up the process of requiring the vaccine for in-person schooling.