3 or more California communities now want to mandate student vaccinations

By: | September 17, 2021

Several Northern California school districts may mandate vaccines for eligible students in the coming days even as cases in the state have been declining.

Three Oakland USD school board members have introduced a mandate for students 12 and older, and they also want the district’s superintendent to launch a vaccination campaign. Board member Sam Davis tweeted that the goal is not to punish unvaccinated students.

Pressure to mandate vaccines is also coming from outside school districts. Contra Costa County, also in the San Fransico Bay Area, is expected to recommend that district leaders require all eligible students to get vaccinated.

And in the state’s capital, the Sacramento County Grand Jury has recommended the 13 school districts within its jurisdiction mandate vaccines for students after a COVID investigation.

Only about 52% of Sacramento County residents were fully vaccinated as of mid-August, the grand jury noted.

“These vaccination rates are the clearest indicator that Sacramento County children below age 12 depend on adults and adolescents to keep them safe from serious illness,” the jury’s investigative report said. “All staff, teachers and eligible students returning to in-person activities within any Sacramento public school facility must be vaccinated to protect this vulnerable population.”

The grand jury has required that each district’s school board respond to its recommendations within 90 days.

Los Angeles USD and Culver City USD in Southern California are the only two districts in the nation that have mandated vaccines for all eligible students. New York City schools and a few districts in Maryland and Virginia have required that students get vaccinated to play on athletic teams.

Since the school year began three weeks ago, COVID cases among students have fallen by 40%, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Unequal impacts

Black and Hispanic children are, just like their parents, more likely to be infected and hospitalized by COVID than are white kids, a new study has found.

These children, who appear less likely to be vaccinated, also suffered a serious and potentially deadly condition, multisystem inflammatory syndrome, at higher rates, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation study.

“COVID-19 has disproportionately negatively affected the physical and mental health, academic growth, and economic security of children of color,” the study says. “At the same time, the limited data available to date suggest some children of color may be less likely to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, leaving them at elevated risk as the virus continues to spread and as many return to in-person school.”

American Indian and Alaska Native children had the highest rates of cases and death, the report found.

Only seven states have broken down vaccination rates by race and ethnicity for children 12 and older. Black children had lower vaccination rates than white children in all seven, the report found.

The survey also found:

  • Half of Hispanic parents said one of their children fell behind academically as a result of the pandemic; 35% of white parents said the same.
  • Half of Hispanic parents said a child experienced difficulty concentrating on schoolwork, issues with sleeping and eating, or frequent headaches or stomachaches since the pandemic began, compared to four in 10 white parents.
  • Black and Hispanic parents were are more likely to say they suffered a job disruption due to childcare needs and that the disruption had a major impact on their finances and stress level.