California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for all school students, pending approvals from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This measure makes California the first state in the country to announce such a requirement for all its students.

Under FDA emergency use authorization, the Pfizer vaccine may currently be administered to students ages 12 and up, but full approval has yet not been given for ages 12 to 15. Clinical trials are still being done for younger age groups and have not yet been given emergency use authorization.

Newsom is anticipating approval in those younger ages and will require the vaccinations in the same way the state requires vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella.

“The state already requires that students are vaccinated against viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella – there’s no reason why we wouldn’t do the same for COVID-19. Today’s measure, just like our first-in-the-nation school masking and staff vaccination requirements, is about protecting our children and school staff, and keeping them in the classroom,” Newsom said on Friday, October 1. “Vaccines work. It’s why California leads the country in preventing school closures and has the lowest case rates. We encourage other states to follow our lead to keep our kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The governor’s press office added that 95% of students have returned to on-campus learning, although 14 schools in the state were forced to close during the pandemic.

California was also the first state to require masks for students attending its schools, and several districts in L.A. County have gone a step further, requiring campuses to enact additional COVID-19 safety and cleaning measures.

As of Sunday, L.A. County reported 825 people hospitalized with COVID-19, a drop of more than 100 from the previous Sunday, which accounted for 947 hospitalizations.

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