California’s K-12 Vaccination Mandate Explained


Doyon Kim

A BOHS student holds their vaccination card. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Oct. 1 that all public and private schools will be expected to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations on a still-to-be-determined date in 2022.

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Oct. 1 a statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate that will require all students — from Kindergarten to 12 — to be fully vaccinated. California will be the first, and only, state in the U.S. to enact such a sweeping mandate.

What is CA Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate?

Newsom announced on Oct. 1 that all students attending public or private schools will be expected to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 1 or July 1. (The date is dependent on formal Food and Drug Administration [FDA] approval.) Newsom plans for the mandate to go into effect by phases, starting in grade levels K-6, then 7-12. In order to attend in-person school. Newsom will require the COVID-19 vaccine on the list of the 10 required immunizations students already receive to attend school in California, including Varicella (for chickenpox), Hepatitis B, and the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis booster (Tdap). 

Who will be affected by the mandate?

The vaccination mandate could affect 6.7 million private and public students in the state. According to Newsom, 63.5% of California residents from ages 12 to 17 have already had at least one dose of the vaccine. Students and staff are allowed to opt out of the vaccine for “medical and/or religious and personal beliefs.” State officials have said that unvaccinated students will most likely have to enroll in independent study and will thus not attend in-person classes. 

When will the mandate go into effect? 

The mandate is expected to take effect by the beginning of either Jan. 1 or July 1, depending on when the FDA formally approves the vaccine for all grade levels.  

How does the BOHS community feel about the potential vaccine mandate?

The vaccination mandate has sparked controversy within the city of Brea. Some district parents demonstrated their objections about the mandate by sharing flyers over social media encouraging students and teachers to participate in a statewide “sit out” on Oct. 18 to illustrate the future impact un-vaccinated students who opt for independent study will have on campus attendance. On the day of the sit out, an average of 266 students per period — 15.3% of total enrollment at BOHS — were reported absent between periods one through three, compared to an average of 109 a day later on Oct. 19. 

What’s next?

Districts, families, and students await final word from the FDA on the vaccine’s availability to K-6 students, which will inform Newsom’s timeline for mandating the vaccine for all students and staff at California schools.