California becomes first state to require COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible K-12 students

California becomes first state to require COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible K-12 students

Just like mumps, just like chickenpox, just like measles.

As reported by The Washington Post, Californians have another reason to be thankful that Gov. Gavin Newsom will remain in charge of their state government, rather than some Trump-worshiping Fox News personality. Newsom announced Friday that, once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants full approval, the Golden State would enact the first statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for eligible schoolchildren. 

As usual, we have to look to the solidly blue states to lead the rest of the country out of the Dark Ages.

As the Post reports:

The mandate will take effect in phases, based on full FDA approval of the vaccine. It will apply to any student in public or private school who wants to attend classes in person.

From the governor’s official website:

“The state already requires that students are vaccinated against viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella – there’s no reason why we wouldn’t do the same for COVID-19. Today’s measure, just like our first-in-the-nation school masking and staff vaccination requirements, is about protecting our children and school staff, and keeping them in the classroom,” said Governor Newsom. “Vaccines work. It’s why California leads the country in preventing school closures and has the lowest case rates. We encourage other states to follow our lead to keep our kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

[…]

The vast majority of school districts have reported that over 95% of students have returned to in-person instruction this school year, as can be seen on the state’s Student Supports & In-Person Dashboard. Thanks to unprecedented resources and public health measures (measures shown to be highly effective), California is leading national trends in preventing school closures and keeping kids in classrooms, accounting for only 14 out of over 2,000 school closures nationwide, or roughly 0.7% – despite the fact that California educates an estimated 12% of the nation’s public school students. If California’s rates had aligned with national trends, the state would have seen upwards of 240 school closures.

While this is a fairly straightforward news item, it’s also a good opportunity to reflect on the oft-repeated aphorism that “elections have consequences.”  Without the California governor’s approval and support, this measure doesn’t go through. It never becomes state policy, at least for a long time, and after a lot of suffering has occurred. Had Larry Elder won September’s recall election, he wouldn’t have taken this step. Californians—and more importantly, California’s children—would have been subject to a politically-motivated buffoon substituting his judgment for public health officials.

Elder would have had a ready audience of right-wing shadow organizations and media eager to support whatever position he took, ginning up vitriol through fake protests, contrived, performative media spectacles, and the like. In the end, the Golden State would divide itself on mandates for vaccination, largely on political lines, exactly the way this country is divided now, with the same inevitable result: wholly unnecessary sickness and death, only this time the victims would be children, rather than adults.

The Los Angeles Times fleshes out the options that will remain available for those anti-vaxxers who prefer to put their children at risk in order to comport with their personal beliefs.

Unlike other routine childhood vaccines, the governor’s plan would allow parents to cite personal beliefs in refusing to vaccinate their children against COVID-19. The personal belief exemption must be granted because the new vaccination requirement is being imposed through a regulatory process, rather than through the Legislature.

State lawmakers can later decide to eliminate the personal belief exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine if they choose to do so.

[…]

Unvaccinated students will have the option of enrolling in a fully online school, attending independent-study programs offered by school districts or be homeschooled.

Twenty years from now, a nearly fully-immunized population of young people are going to ask their parents and grandparents what could have possibly motivated such reluctance to a simple vaccine. And those parents and grandparents will respond that some self-centered people, with the aid of Fox News and Facebook, unilaterally decided that their own misguided beliefs and political hatred outweighed the health needs of the rest of the nation. But (we can only hope they’ll say), after California took the lead in requiring that all schoolchildren be vaccinated, the whole opposition movement sort of slowly died out, figuratively and literally.

And perhaps those young people will respond: What’s Facebook? What’s Fox News?

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