By Sharon Bernstein
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) -California will become the first U.S. state to mandate statewide COVID-19 vaccinations for schoolchildren as early as January, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday.
But first the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must fully approve inoculations for their age groups, he said.
The Democrat made the announcement at a news briefing as the United States remains a few hundred deaths shy of 700,000 COVID-19 deaths.
Several large school districts in California, the most populous U.S. state, already mandate COVID-19 vaccines for some students.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s largest, requires them for children over the age of 12, for whom the FDA has authorized their emergency use.
Public schools in San Diego will require vaccines for students over the age of 16 in December, and in Hoboken, New Jersey, students must be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing for the virus.
Newsom’s new policy would add COVID-19 to the list of ailments against which children must be vaccinated to attend public or private schools.
Public health officials say the state’s strict COVID-19 public health orders helped to slow the transmission of the virus in recent weeks.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Additional reporting by Anurag Maan; Editing by Howard Goller)