California Pushes for School Vaccine Mandates


Chase Kim

A student prepares for the COVID-19 vaccine at the St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton.

Chase Kim, Photojournalist

For private and public schools in California, children must be vaccinated against 10 diseases. Newsom plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list.


On Friday, Newsom held a news conference in a San Francisco middle school and announced the plan for a vaccine mandate once the FDA approves the vaccine for 5-12 year olds. The mandate would affect grades from kindergarten through high school and would add on to the mask requirement California schools currently have.


“Our schools already require vaccines for measles, mumps and more. Why? Because vaccines work,” Newsom tweeted Friday. 


It’s true. Since the beginning of the pandemic, California has been one of the states most aggressive in battling the virus: vaccine mandates are currently in place for healthcare workers, teachers, and university workers across the state. California also, not coincidentally, has one of the lowest case rates in the country.


When schools reopened this fall, a surge of cases were expected – and there were – but not nearly as many as were anticipated thanks to heavy precautions taken by school districts. In Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego, vaccines are already required for students, albeit with no deadline in Oakland’s case and deadlines many months in the future for the other two.


Yorba Linda High School, along with all other PYLUSD schools, will be affected by this change if it comes into action. As with all other vaccination mandates in California, there will likely be exceptions for students with religious or medical exemptions. 


Fauci has praised Newsom’s push, calling it “sound judgement.” “To be vaccinated with certain vaccines is not something new. It’s been around for a very long time.” He stresses that a mandate would not be specific only to COVID-19 because of existing school vaccination requirements.


Reese Gutierrez (9), simply said “I agree.”


Most teacher unions also side with the decision, along with the California Association of School Boards. However, people themselves still pose a problem for Newsom’s push, hanging on to the idea of freedom of choice in getting the vaccine. 


At Yorba Linda High, it seems like most support the idea. The general attitude towards the mandate is positive, with a sort of “why not try?” view on the matter.


“Previously, like, there have been other vaccines that have been required so I don’t see the big problem with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” said Anonymous (10). The new mandate, if passed, will likely not take place soon, instead, it will act more as a precaution for the next school year and will take effect next fall.