Skelton: California school vaccine mandate will save lives

Look, if you haven’t been vaccinated, you’re eight times more likely to get COVID-19 than if you didn’t get the shot.

It gets worse: If you’re unvaccinated and test positive, your chances of being hospitalized increase 13-fold.

And you’re 18 to 20 times more likely to die.

Dr. Mark Galley, Secretary of the State Health and Human Services Agency, cited those numbers in California when I asked how vaccination makes a difference – especially for school children.

Governor Gavin Newsom has accelerated a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all public and private schoolchildren – making California the first state to require vaccinations for classroom learning.

“The number 1 thing we must do to get COVID behind us is to get more people vaccinated,” Ghaly says.

“The mortality rate on children is very different from that of adults. That said, we still have lost more young people to COVID than any other infectious disease, such as measles or mumps.”

School children with polio, chickenpox, rubella, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough should already be vaccinated for those diseases.

So, you have to wonder about the people who are refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and are protesting against getting their children vaccinated. What are they taking instead of the vaccine?

Some anti-vaccination extremists call COVID-19 a “fake” disease. that’s silly.

So far, the disease has killed more than 710,000 people nationwide, including about 70,000 in California, according to the federal and state governments. Every day 96 are dying of this disease in this state. Across the US, it has infected 44 million, including 4.7 million in California.

Those statistics are not fake. They are scary, heartbreaking, and financially devastating to many.

The Times reported Saturday that only 60% of Californians have been fully vaccinated, based on the paper’s data analysis. In rural counties with low vaccination rates, residents died of COVID-19 at a significantly higher rate during the summer than those in better immunized areas, such as Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Anti-vaxxers – and Republican politicians – complain that people lose their freedom when vaccinations are mandatory. He says taking the shot should be a personal choice.


Personal liberty does not give anyone the right to spread disease to other people. No one has the personal freedom to drive 100 mph on the freeway or do target practice with a rifle in a downtown park. This is because it puts others in danger.

“Personal choice is important, but when it affects the life and health and safety of a community, personal choice is not and should not be won,” says Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, a former state Senate leader.

There is also a highly regarded argument about local control. Many local officials and parents argue that school boards should decide whether their students should be vaccinated.


We should have a statewide policy on school vaccinations. They should be needed everywhere. It is a case where one size fits all. We shouldn’t have a district mandated shot while a neighboring neighborhood allows them to be voluntary.

Then things get confused and mischievous as the parents district-shop.

Steinberg has viewed the local control logic from the point of view of both the city and the state.

“Local control is an important value. It is not just absolute,” says the Democrat. “There is a time when an issue is so compelling to people’s lives that local control must be secondary to protecting public health and safety. .

“If ever there was a case to be made about a single state standard, it is this. It’s about life and death.”

Steinberg recently contracted COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. At 61, he was in a vulnerable age group.

“I had fever and congestion — little more than flu-like symptoms,” he says. “I was tired and had lost my sense of taste and smell. It lasted for two weeks.

“I believe that if I hadn’t received my vaccinations, I would have been hospitalized. It was the difference between having normal symptoms like mine, and serious illness and possibly death.”

Newsom is on the right track with its vaccination mandate for students and teachers. Some people think that he is moving too slowly. But it can move as fast as a governor can, given political practicalities and legal speed limits.

He understandably wants to wait for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve vaccines for school-age children before requiring shots.

The plan is to begin implementing the statewide mandate throughout the school term after FDA approval. That could be in January or next July. Middle and high schools will come first, followed by kindergarten and elementary grades.

But the mandate will have a major loophole unless the legislature passes a law to remove the exemptions of repeated abuse for “personal beliefs.” In 2015 the legislature did the same for other childhood vaccines. But a governor cannot do this on his own.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), a pediatrician who has sponsored laws tightening student immunization requirements, says he will be fighting COVID-19 during the Legislature’s reorganization in January. May introduce a bill to eliminate the personal trust exemption for 19 shots. good thought.

There will still be a medical exemption.

Parents could refuse to vaccinate their children. But children will have to enroll in online classes, join an independent study program, or be home-schooled.

“If you don’t want to vaccinate your child, you don’t have to,” Pan says. “But there are consequences. They are not meant to punish but to protect other children who deserve to be safe.”

Another consequence could be that an unvaccinated child acquires a mild case of COVID-19 and passes it on to a vulnerable grandparent. Then the parent should be grounded.

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