Parents in disagreement with California’s first-in-the-nation COVID-19 vaccine mandate for elementary students staged a protest on Monday at the state Capitol.
Democratic Gov. Gin Newsom was the first in the U.S. to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for elementary school students, even though the vaccines have not yet received emergency approval for children.
At this time the vaccine has only been approved for children aged 16 and older.
Newsom plans to enforce the mandate on kids in grades seven through 12 in California schools beginning the first semester after the vaccines are approved by the FDA for emergency use for those under 16 years of age, according to the report.
“I’m not against anyone getting vaccinated,” student Maddox Smith said. “I’m against being forced to get vaccinated. I think it’s about power more than anything, not public health.”
Immunization with the newly developed COVID-19 vaccines should not be a requirement to attend school in the state, organizers wrote in the protest permit which the California Highway Patrol approved.
Parents opposed to forced vaccination have said that their only recourse would be to home-school their children.
“How are we supposed to work and provide for our children?” parent Mariah Jones said. “So it’s really not a choice.”
Exemptions for “medical reasons and personal beliefs” will be permitted under Newsom’s mandate, however the process for handling them has not yet been decided.
In addition, Newsom’s statewide mandate allows local school boards to put their own mandates in place more quickly. California has required that students be vaccinated against measles, chickenpox and other diseases for many years.
“Vaccines are how we end this pandemic,” a Newsom spokesperson said.
“The state already requires that students are vaccinated against a range of viruses such as measles, mumps and rubella – there’s no reason why we wouldn’t do the same for COVID-19.
“This is about protecting our children and school staff, and keeping them in the classroom — these measures are why California leads national trends in preventing school closures and achieving the lowest case rates in the country.”