A public school district in California’s Los Angeles has voted to approve a mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccines for eligible students by early next year.
The decision by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which is the largest public school system in the state and the second largest in the country, came on Thursday in a resolution after a 6–0 vote by school board members.
There was one recusal from a member for a possible conflict of interest, according to The Washington Post.
An online agenda (pdf) released by the LAUSD said that the “expected outcomes” after the mandate is in effect include having all students 12 and older take their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 21, and their second dose by Dec. 19.
The deadline is earlier for students who participate in in-person extracurricular activities—with the first vaccine dose due by Oct. 3, and the second dose by Oct. 31.
Those under 12 years of age are required to have their first dose no later than 30 days after turning 12. The second dose must be no later than eight weeks after their 12th birthday.
According to the agenda, some students may be granted exemptions.
The school board estimates about 150,000 doses will need to be dealt out after the mandate is approved.
A proof of vaccination must be uploaded into the LAUSD’s Daily Pass system, according to a press release. The Daily Pass system has been in use since July, to monitor students and staff as part of LAUSD’s mandated weekly COVID-19 testing.
Protesters stood outside the venue where the vote took place. One photo showed people holding signs saying, “Where there is risk there must be choice,” and, “What could go wrong? Blood clots, heart damage, neuro problems.”
LAUSD Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly said in a statement that “the science is clear” that vaccines are an “essential part of protection” against COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and requiring eligible students to be vaccinated is the strongest way to protect our school community,” she added.
Board President Kelly Gonez said in a statement that the LAUSD’s decision “furthers our longstanding commitment to ensure the safety of our students, families, and staff.”
She added that the vaccine is “the single best way” to protect students from COVID-19 and that LAUSD is “committed to meeting our families where they are and providing them with reliable medical information” about “this safe, effective vaccine,” without specifying which vaccine.
Board Vice President Nick Melvoin said in a statement that a “medical and scientific consensus has emerged that the best way to protect everyone in our schools and communities is for all those who are eligible to get vaccinated.”
He added, “This policy is the best way to make that happen.”
Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only option authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for children between the ages of 12 and 15. Moderna and Pfizer have begun trials involving children under 12.