- The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s largest, is requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all students ages 12 and up for in-person learning and extracurricular activities.
- Some smaller California school districts are discussing similar vaccines requirements.
- Most school districts across the country do not currently require COVID-19 vaccination for students, though experts expect this to change.
- Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is approved for use in children ages 12 and up.
- The Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue a decision on COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 12 sometime this fall or winter.
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) recently approved a vaccine mandate requiring children ages 12 and older be fully vaccinated to attend in-person learning.
Students must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31 to participate in extracurricular activities.
To attend in-person lessons, they must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 19.
LAUSD is the largest school district in the country to enact a COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
The ruling comes as infections among children are up 240 percent since July.
Severe illness remains rare in kids who contract the coronavirus, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
A small percentage of children, however, have been hospitalized with COVID-19.
Pediatricians expect that many kids and parents will be exposed to the virus this fall and winter as we head indoors.
“The vaccine is the best way to protect kids and our community from the serious and long-term effects of the virus,” Dr. Katherine Williamson, a pediatrician with Providence Mission Hospital in Orange County, California, told Healthline.
Children who are newly eligible for COVID-19 vaccination are required to get their first dose no later than 30 days after their 12th birthday.
They must get their second dose within 8 weeks of their first.
The district said the shots will be offered at school to children who have parental consent.
Proof of vaccination must be uploaded to LAUSD’s Daily Pass program by Jan. 10, 2022.
Vaccinating children will not only protect kids from getting sick and potentially developing long-haul symptoms, but it will help block transmission in their communities.
Public health experts have compared the COVID-19 vaccine mandates to other routine childhood vaccination requirements, like chickenpox or measles, mumps, and rubella.
These mandates have successfully prevented outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
More school districts may eventually follow suit, but the vast majority of school districts across the country do not require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Just south of Los Angeles in Orange County, there hasn’t been a decision regarding vaccinating schoolchildren, said Williamson.
But unvaccinated teachers have transmitted the infection to students, she added.
“The best way to keep our kids and teachers safe is for everyone 12 years and older to be vaccinated, and, for now, to wear masks in schools as the virus is still harming so many unvaccinated children and adults,” Williamson said.
At least nine states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah — have passed legislation preventing public schools from requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
At least 34 states have passed bills with restrictions about requiring proof of vaccination.
Many states also allow religious and medical exemptions from school immunizations.
Children have not been experiencing concerning side effects after COVID-19 vaccination.
Expected side effects include pain at the injection site, fever, headache, and chills that resolve within a couple of days after vaccination.
Dr. Ilan Shapiro, medical director of health education and wellness with AltaMed Health Services in Los Angeles and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said it’s more common for kids to experience complications like heart inflammation and thrombosis because of getting COVID-19 itself, not from getting vaccinated.
“The cases of myocarditis we are seeing are mostly in young males and are very rare,” he said.
Shapiro recommends getting children vaccinated as soon as possible.
“The Pfizer vaccine is currently the only vaccine available for kids as young as age 12 and requires two doses, and the recipient doesn’t achieve full immunity until 2 weeks after the second dose,” he said.
If your child is confused or worried about the shot, Shapiro recommends having a clear and open conversation about the purpose of vaccination.
Because some kids may be afraid of needles, Williamson recommends telling them it will only pinch for a second, and that you will be there for them afterward.
If your child has been exposed to misinformation on social media, Williamson said it’s important not to dismiss them, but listen to their concerns.
“Schedule an in-office or telehealth visit with their pediatrician where they can ask their questions and have their concerns addressed in a safe space,” Williamson said.
Shapiro likens getting vaccinated to wearing a seat belt.
“We wear seat belts in the car because in the event of an accident it will keep us safe and can save our lives. In a similar way, the vaccine provides protection to keep us safe when encountering this highly contagious virus,” he said.
People who are vaccinated can still contract an infection, but just like seat belts lower a person’s risk of being severely injured in a car accident, vaccines do a great job of keeping people out of the hospital.
The Los Angeles Unified School District recently approved a vaccine mandate requiring children ages 12 and older be fully vaccinated to attend in-person learning.
Although more districts may eventually issue student vaccine mandates, the vast majority of school districts in the United States are not requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at this time.
Pediatricians recommend getting kids vaccinated now, as it takes over a month to achieve full immunity from the shots.