The Los Angeles Unified School District recently announced that students over the age of 12 will be required to get fully vaccinated against Covid-19. KNX 10.70 reports that the district is the first in the country to require the Covid vaccine for students. However, the mandate does allow for medical or other exemptions. District Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly stated, “The science is clear. Vaccinations are an essential part of protection against Covid-19. The Covid-19 vaccines are safe, effective; and requiring eligible students to be vaccinated is the strongest way to protect our school community.”
The new rule requires all students 12 and up who participate in extracurricular activities to receive their first vaccine dose by October 3 and their second dose by October 31. Other students over the age of 12 have to receive their first dose by November 21 and their second by December 19. Students younger than 12 will need to receive their first dose no more than 30 days after their 12th birthday and the second dose no more than eight weeks after their 12th birthday.
Officials said proof of immunization must be submitted into the Daily Pass system of the Los Angeles Unified School District. In late July, the district said that in-person learning will require weekly Covid-19 testing for students, instructors, and staff, regardless of vaccination status. In August, they announced that all employees in the district had to be vaccinated by October 15.
School board president Kelly Gonez said, “today’s decision furthers our longstanding commitment to ensure the safety of our students, families, and staff. The vaccine is the single best way to protect students and schools from Covid-19. Los Angeles Unified is committed to meeting our families where they are and providing them with reliable medical information about this safe, effective vaccine.”
According to a report from Los Angeles Patch, one school board member, Scott Schmerelson, had to recuse himself from the vote because he is a stockholder of Pfizer, the only vaccine manufacturer with emergency use authorization for emergency use children as young as 12. Following the unanimous passing of the mandate, he voiced his support for the requirement. The board’s student member, Parishi Kanuga, supported the mandate but called for understanding of hesitancy, stating, “I would like everyone to remember the fact that we do live in a nation where communities of color have been affected by our country’s medical decisions, leading to mistrust.”
LAUSD is the nation’s second-largest school district, with approximately 600,000 students, of which about 220,000 are eligible to get the vaccine. District Medical Director Dr. Smita Malhotra said that the vaccine requirement could prevent 110 children from being hospitalized with the virus, based on infection and hospitalization data for children.