The Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education just took the targeting of children to a whole other level when it comes to the pandemic.
With Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis battling for the rights of parents to choose whether their children wear masks or not, the nation’s second-largest school district voted unanimously to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible students, ABC News reported.
The vote comes as President Joe Biden announced forced vaccinations Thursday for companies with 100 or more employees and 17 million healthcare workers employed in facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funds.
“The science is clear, vaccinations are an essential part of protection against COVID-19,” Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly said in a statement after the vote. “The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and requiring eligible students to be vaccinated is the strongest way to protect our school community.”
The landmark decision requires all students ages 12 and up to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 10, 2022, unless they have a “medical or other exemption,” the district explained, according to ABC News. Officials said before the vote the proposal “will result in the safest school environment possible and minimize disruption to full-time, in-person instruction brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As the network noted, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine that has been approved for children ages 12 and up. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer vaccine last month, but it’s still be administered to children aged 12-15 under the emergency use authorization.
KCAL reported on Sept. 1 that Los Angeles County health officials said more than 5,200 COVID-19 cases had been detected among K-12 students in the county over the prior two weeks.
LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer called the number “sobering.”
“We average about 500 cases a day across L.A. County,” she said, according to the CBS affiliate. “The largest portion of those cases are identified through routine screening, and these are really people who are in fact asymptomatic. So it’s a sobering number because it’s large, but it’s actually helpful to be able to identify people who are infected with COVID before they show symptoms and before they have lots of opportunities … to go ahead and spread that virus.”
“The sobering news for all of us is that with high rates of community transmission … we have a number of people in our school community that are testing positive and that can in fact infect others,” Ferrer added. “We have to move quickly to prevent the kind of transmission in schools that will create very large outbreaks, something that’s been done successfully since reopening last fall.”
Citing the county’s vaccine tracker, ABC reported that over 60% of 12- to 15-year-olds in LA County have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 68% of 16- to 17-year-olds have received at least one dose.
The United Teachers Los Angeles union reportedly supports vaccine mandates for the students.
The New York Times reported earlier this month that the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine “is associated with an increased risk of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.”
The article cited a large Israeli study of about two million people who are 16 or older, but said the side effect remains rare, and Covid-19 is more likely to cause myocarditis than the vaccine is.
More from the Times:
Although the study did not break down the myocarditis risks by age or by sex, the median age of people who developed the condition after vaccination was 25, and 19 of the 21 cases were in males, the researchers reported.
In addition to myocarditis, the Pfizer vaccine was also associated with an increased risk of swollen lymph nodes, appendicitis and shingles, although all three side effects remained uncommon in the study. Coronavirus infection was not associated with these side effects, but it did increase the odds of several potentially serious cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and blood clots.
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