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Central Coast schools prepare for state vaccine mandate for students

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION) California is now the first state in the nation to announce a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for public school students. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that the mandate won’t take effect until the vaccine has received full approval from the U.S. government for various grade levels.

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is only fully approved for those 16 and older. Emergency authorization has been granted for anyone 12 and older. Once final approval comes for those 12 and older, the state will mandate vaccines for students in seventh through 12th grade.

The mandate would take effect the semester after the approval, either January 1st, or July 1st. Newsom estimates that will come before July 2022.

"I want to get this behind us, get this economy moving again, make sure our kids never have to worry about getting a call saying they can’t go to school the next day because one of the kids or a staff member tested positive," Newsom said of the mandate.

The state will also require the vaccine for kindergarten through sixth grades once the vaccine receives final approval for anyone 5 and older.

"We intend to do that once the FDA has fully approved the vaccine, which will give us time to work with districts, give us time to work with parents and educators."

Parents will be able to claim some religious and medical exemptions. One parent we spoke to in Salinas said she is vaccinated, but she is concerned for her kids because of how new the vaccine is.

"I wouldn't do it because it's a new vaccine. I think adults can barely tolerate the reactions and I don't want to imagine how it would be for a child," said Yeraldine Lara, holding her young son.

The Governor's Office says there will be no testing alternative to the mandate. Students who are not vaccinated will be enrolled in independent study, but how that will work is still to be figured out.

"The distance learning model worked for some parents and students. And it didn't work for many students and parents," said Dr. Deneen Guss, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools. "I'm not sure yet if that will continue to be in an independent study model or if another model will be developed, or if there will be any flexibility around what that learning from home model will look like."

Dr. Guss said the county is preparing to host vaccine clinics and webinars for parents to help discourage any vaccine misinformation.

"We're hoping to host vaccine clinics on school sites as well as at the local hospitals and local pharmacies. We think that if we make it more available and more accessible by putting those vaccine clinics on school sites, we will have greater participation."

Here's a look at current vaccination numbers for school-aged children across the Central Coast.

  • Monterey County: 72% aged 12-17 with at least 1 dose
  • Santa Cruz County: 74.9% aged 12-17 with at least 1 dose
  • San Benito County: 74.1% aged 12-17 with at least 1 dose
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Lisa Principi

Lisa Principi is a reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.



  1. More kids are going to die from the shot then they did from Covid, and Kion questions nothging, and just goes along with the propaganda. Sickening.

    1. Do not question the all wise Newsom!! He is a person of such high moral character and integrity. One example is when he slept with his best friends wife. You know the old saying action speak louder then words

      And you should know that reporters in these times are cut and paste experts. Most have no investigate or journalistic skills beyond cutting and pasting.

    2. As opposed to the knuckle dragging red neck propaganda based on no facts at all? Common Timothy, you are way smarter than that. “More kids are going to die from the shot than they did from Covid” Cmon man.

        1. Like the idea of kids getting vaccinated as a requirement for going to school is a new thing? I lost count of how many shots I had to get and how many shots my kids had to get in order to attend school, and it did not matter if it was here in California or at DOD schools overseas. Why would people get so ignorant over this serious situation? I seriously hope you did not put your kids or other peoples kids in danger by not getting any of the required shots to attend school. I guess, since I don’t actually have a horse in the race, I should not really care what you do. My two sons have long since grown up but of course they both have already gotten the vaccine as has my whole family here in Monterey and everyone at work. Is this a Santa Cruz thing? Petrulli and hope for the best? Bah, don’t listen to me Timothy, I just bust your chops and voice my opinions, but I should probably be a little more respectful when I do it….but, but…where is the fun in that?

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