Oakland schools become first in Northern California to mandate student vaccines

Oakland schools become first in Northern California to mandate student vaccines
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The Oakland Unified School District on Wednesday voted to require vaccines for students, becoming the first Northern California school district to do so.

The order from the school board passed nearly unanimously and applies to all students aged 12 and up, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The vaccine mandate does not come with a deadline, with the requirement unlikely to be implemented before January.

Staff members, contractors and volunteers in the Oakland Unified School District were already required to get vaccinated.

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The majority of the school board agreed that the vaccine mandate would help in preventing disruptions to in-person learning, though the dissenting board member, Mike Hutchinson, argued that the decision should be left to lawmakers, the Chronicle reported.

A group of state lawmakers on Wednesday sent a letter to East Bay school boards calling on them to enact vaccine requirements.

“The idea of local school boards across California deciding what’s required for vaccination to enter into school scares me," said Hutchinson.

“The failure of action is actually from the state representatives that sent this letter,” he added. “It’s their failure of action why we’re in this situation. ... Why haven’t they introduced legislation in Sacramento, which would provide the real solution to the problem we’re facing?”

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Unified School District voted to require all eligible students to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by early next year.

“The science is clear  vaccinations are an essential part of protection against COVID-19,” said interim Superintendent Megan Reilly. “The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and requiring eligible students to be vaccinated is the strongest way to protect our school community.”