Los Angeles passes Covid-19 vaccine mandate for all students aged 12 and over

By Graeme Massie
AFP via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Unified School District, one of the largest in the country, has passed a Covid-19 mandate requiring all pupils aged 12 and over to be vaccinated in order to go to class.

The new rule is the first for a major school district in the US, and was passed by the Board of Education at a special meeting.

The LAUSD has 600,000 students enrolled in its schools and around 225,000 of its students are eligible for the vaccine, with officials saying they believe around 80,000 are not yet vaccinated.

Students aged 12 and older who take part in in-person extracurricular programmes now have to get a first vaccine dose by 3 October and their second no later than 31 October.

All other students aged 12 and up have to get their first dose by 21 November and their second shot by 19 December.

Students who are turning 12 have to get their first shot no later than 30 days after their birthday, and their second dose no later than eight weeks after it.

People under the age of 12 are not currently allowed to get the vaccine, as the federal government has not yet approved it for emergency use in that age group.

Pfizer’s vaccine has emergency use approval for people aged 12 to 15, and full Food and Drug administration authorisation for anyone over the age of 16.

The mandate states that Covid-19 “is a material threat to the health and safety of all students within the LAUSD community, and is a further threat to the successful return to continuous in-person instruction.’’

Interim superintendent Megan Reilly said the student mandate was a logical step for the school district.

“We’ve always approached safety with a multilayered approach: masks, air filtration and coronavirus screening,” Ms Reilly told The Los Angeles Times.

“But we are seeing without a doubt that the vaccines are one of the clearest pathways to protecting individuals from getting severe sickness as well as for mitigating transmission of the COVID virus.

“It is one of the best preventive measures that we have at our disposal to create a safe environment at schools.”

United Teachers Los Angeles, the trade union which represents LAUSD teachers, was supportive of the move.

Students and employees in LAUSD are already required to undergo weekly Covid-19 testing, regardless of vaccination status.

All district employees must also be fully vaccinated by 15 October.

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