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Statewide Walkout Held in Light of California’s Vaccine Mandate

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A student walkout in protest of California’s vaccination mandate for public school students took place across the state on Oct. 18. 

The mandate, which was announced on Oct. 1, states that “students will be required to be vaccinated for in-person learning starting the term following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their grade span (7-12 and K-6).”

Parents, students and educators who oppose the mandate organized the walkout in hopes of gaining the attention of local legislators. Protesters held marches in locations like the State Capitol in Sacramento and Huntington Beach.

Some, like parent Babe Prieto, kept their children home from school as a form of protesting the mandate.

“We know that if our children stay home from school … that will impact the funding that schools will get for that day, and we want them to know that we’re serious about not being forced to vaccinate our children,” Prieto said.

Currently, students from the ages of five to 17 are responsible for 12.3% of reported COVID-19 cases in the United States. Students at public K-12 schools in California will be prohibited from attending in-person instruction if they choose to remain unvaccinated after full FDA approval.

Grassroots organizations like Our Kids Our Choice view the vaccination policy as a violation of civil liberties, as their motto states, “it’s not about whether to vaccinate or not; it’s about preserving that choice.” 

Some folks against the mandate argue that the vaccine has not had enough time to be perfected.

Only 6.3% of the country’s population under the age of 18 have been fully vaccinated. Of that percentage, children under the age of 12 account for 0.1% of fully vaccinated individuals.  

However, it is in the official opinion of the Centers for Disease Control that everyone 12 years of age and older receive the vaccine. Exemptions from the requirement are granted for those with conflicting medical and personal beliefs.

In addition to stopping the spread of COVID-19, the mandate is anticipated to aid in preventing the emergence of other COVID-19 variants. Due to a quicker transmission rate and increased prevalence amongst younger populations, the likelihood of virus mutation is high, as seen with the more severe delta variant.  

An expected approval date for COVID-19 vaccine use in children remains undetermined at this time. 

Erin Boshers is a City News Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. She can be reached at eboshers@uci.edu.