The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the country, approved a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students 12 and older on Thursday- one of the most aggressive measures taken by any school district to protect children.
Now, COVID vaccines will be mandatory for all eligible students by Thanksgiving if they want to attend in-person classes. The district has more than 600,000 students at more than 1,000 schools.
"When we look at other immunization requirements - polio, rubella, hepatitis - that we've had in schools for generations, we are going to see other districts follow L.A. Unified's lead," said Nick Melvoin, a board member.
Melvoin said many school administrators are overwhelmed because they're spending the majority of their time on COVID protocols. Vaccinations could change that, he said.
"According to this principal, about 90% of his schedule over the last month of school has been COVID protocols. We're already seeing in instances where kids are vaccinated that we can go back to a normal school day," he said.
The move comes as cases among children in the U.S. are soaring. Los Angeles County has recorded more than 190,000 COVID cases in kids 17 and under since the start of the pandemic, according to the county's Department of Public Health.
Culver City, California, and Hoboken, New Jersey, school districts have already enacted vaccine or testing mandates for students and staff.
Since schools have returned to in-person learning, COVID outbreaks have closed more than 1,400 schools. At least eight public school employees in Tennessee have reportedly died in the past month after contracting COVID. In Florida, school districts are allowed tomask mandates after a judge ruled against Governor Ron DeSantis' ban.
Still, some parents like Bryna Makowka, who has a 15-year-old son in the Los Angeles public school system, say vaccine mandates goes too far. "This is no one's right but the parent and child to make," she said.
Los Angeles school board votes to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students 12 and older
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