Los Angeles public schools will require all children 12 years old and older to have COVID-19 vaccinations by next year. This is the first requirement of a major American education board.
Los Angeles Unified School district voted in its second largest vote. This comes at a time when the United States is struggling with rising coronavirus numbers due to the highly contagious Delta variant.
The announcement came as President Joe Biden issued tough new national rules to stop the flood of new infections. He ordered companies with more than 100 employees to make sure all are vaccinated and required that federal employees and contractors get the shots.
The LAUSD manages 600,000 students in a public school. Thursday’s motion could be a model for other school boards across the country.
Kelly Gonez (president of the LAUSD board), welcomed the vote.
“The vaccine is safe, effective, & the best way to keep our students protected against the virus,” she tweeted after the meeting.
“We will work to ensure families have reliable medical information in the coming weeks.”
The district already mandates regular testing for children, and masks are required on campus, both indoors and out. Staff must be vaccinated.
All children who attend in-person classes must have their first dose of vaccines by November 21. To be fully immune by January 10, they must have received their second dose on time.
Scientists believe that the second jab confers maximum immunity for two weeks.
A 12-year-old child will have 30 days to receive their first shot if they turn 12 within the school year.
Although the plan is supported by teachers’ unions as well as many parents, there is a large and vocal minority that opposes vaccines. This is despite overwhelming scientific evidence proving they are safe and effective.
Local health officials estimate that around 58% of children aged 12-18 have received at least one shot.
The LAUSD meeting heard from many parents concerned about vaccines and they insisted that it was their right for their child to choose whether or not they were inoculated.
It also heard it from doctors, who reiterated the scientific establishment’s assertion that the shots were safe and effective.
Some of the contributors made parallels to previous fights against diseases such as polio which have been nearly eradicated worldwide through vaccination programs.
Many schools in the United States require that children be vaccinated against a variety of communicable disease, including measles and hepatitis B.
In the United States, vaccines, masks, and other mitigation measures against COVID-19 are deeply political issues.
Political leaders in Republican-dominated states and counties have used personal freedom to stop imposing rules on their people that would be beneficial for them.
The United States has a free and readily available vaccine program that helped to control earlier coronavirus outbreaks. This disease has already claimed the lives of more than 650,000 people and left millions more ill.
However, the emergence of Delta has threatened to reverse this progress. In recent months, case numbers have risen across the country, with a concentration in areas where vaccine take up is low.