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California Governor Gavin Newsom is facing a tough recall election fight next month and his state is experiencing a dramatic increase in positive tests for COVID-19. So it’s not surprising that Newsom would mandate that teachers and staff at all California schools public schools be vaccinated or undergo regular testing.
It’s believed that most school districts across the country will follow California’s lead and require teachers to get the jab before being allowed to interact with children.
“Educators want to be in classrooms with their students, and the best way to make sure that happens is for everyone who is medically eligible to be vaccinated,” California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd said in a statement. Newsom has the unions on his side in mandating the vaccine as well as having their support for his mask mandate in schools.
In recent days, national teachers’ unions also have signaled support for vaccine requirements. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in interviews that she was open to the requirement and then amplified those comments Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“As a matter of personal conscience, I think that we need to be working with our employers, not opposing them, on vaccine mandates,” she said on NBC.
Weingarten’s comments stood out following a year in which teachers’ unions were largely opposed to political figures in battles over opening schools to in-person learning, and had voiced some opposition to vaccine mandates.
Newsom previously imposed a vaccine requirement on state workers.
What about students? For those over 12 years old, the vaccine is already recommended. But for 50 million kids between infancy and 12, there is no approved vaccine.
When will that change? No one — not even the FDA — can say for sure.
Related: Gavin Newsom’s Biggest Problem: California Voters Dislike Him
The trials for a COVID vaccine for those ages 5-12 are underway. Pfizer believes it can submit an emergency use application by the end of September. Given the timeline of the adult vaccine, it will be four to six weeks after the application before it would be approved.
The FDA has been saying since May that it expects vaccines to be available for kids under 12 on a “fall or winter timeline.” But it hasn’t offered much in the way of updates. When I asked the agency for its best estimate of when it might issue an emergency-use authorization for either the Pfizer or Moderna shots in young kids, a spokesperson referred me to comments that the director of the agency’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research made in early July indicating that he expected results from the clinical trials “later this year.”
Parents are already mobilizing to keep their schools open come hell or high water so unless the teachers go on strike — not impossible but unlikely — the schools should remain open.
If I were a parent of a child between 5-12 years old, I would look very carefully at any vaccine that came to market. Every parent must weigh the risk of their child contracting COVID versus possible side effects from the vaccine. The key will be that parents — not the government — make that decision.
That’s what responsible adults living in a free society do. Given that most political leaders treat us like little children, we should not be optimistic.