California will add the Covid-19 vaccination to immunizations required for in-person school attendance, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in San Francisco Friday morning.
The requirements will be phased in by grade groups — 7-12 and K-6 — and will start for each group only after the Food and Drug Administration fully approves the vaccine for that cohort, the governor’s office said in a news release.
“We intend to (have the requirement) once the FDA has fully approved the vaccine, which will give us time to work with districts, give us time to work with parents and educators to build more trust and confidence and build out logistics so that we can deliver on what we are promoting here today,” Newsom said.
The mandate will be a condition of in-person attendance, though independent study is an option for unvaccinated students. The effort aims to protect children and keep them learning in-person, Newsom’s office said.
“This will accelerate our effort to get this pandemic behind us,” Newsom told CNN’s Ana Cabrera minutes after making the announcement. “We already mandate 10 vaccines. In so many ways… it’s probably the most predictable announcement.”
California expects this to apply to grades 7-12 next July, based on current projections for full approval.
The FDA authorized Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to include people ages 12 to 15 in May. And in August the agency granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and older.
Moderna has also submitted data to the FDA for full approval for its Covid-19 vaccine in people ages 18 and up and has requested priority review from the agency. Johnson & Johnson has not yet filed for full FDA approval of its vaccine.