Governor Newsom’s Vaccine Mandate and What It Means for West High

California has become the first state in the U.S. to implement a mandate on vaccination for students to go to school, as announced by Governor Gavin Newsom. Once the mandate goes into effect, students will be required to show proof of vaccination as a requisite for attending in-person school.

Art/Photo by Westley Kim

California has become the first state in the U.S. to implement a mandate on vaccination for students to go to school, as announced by Governor Gavin Newsom. Once the mandate goes into effect, students will be required to show proof of vaccination as a requisite for attending in-person school.

Kate Phan, Staff Writer

  On October 1, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom implemented a vaccine mandate. Following the approval of the Food and Drug Association (FDA), it will be mandatory for students above the age of 12 to get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in order to attend in-person school. FDA approval means that all data regarding the drug is reviewed and its known benefits outweigh the known risks. Official approval is predicted to take place in July; therefore, the mandate is expected to take place in the 2022-2023 school year.

   Newsom’s mandate requires students to get vaccinated for COVID-19 in the same way they follow procedures applying to the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines required for in-person school attendance. Local jurisdiction is encouraged to mandate vaccination of students before the statewide legislation takes place, depending on the status of COVID-19 cases within the region. This action takes another step toward lowering California’s COVID-19 cases as California already has one of the lowest case rates in the country.

   Doctor Mark Ghaly, secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency, emphasized, “If you’re not vaccinated your chances of getting COVID-19 are eight times higher than if you had the shots… If you’re unvaccinated and test positive, your odds of being hospitalized jump by 13 times. And you’re 18 to 20 times more likely to die.” Many health professionals stress that vaccination is an important preventative measure to lessen the chance of death or severity of the virus. 

   However, Torrance Memorial nurse practitioner Heather Garza disagreed: “I don’t think it’s fair to force something where we don’t fully know the risk, especially in these patients who’ve recovered.” Her and other various health care workers have refused to receive the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine, and on October 1, they protested outside the Torrance Memorial Medical Center to promote medical freedom.

   Regarding local feelings about the new vaccine mandate, West High student Tyler Hinze (11) expressed his opinions on the new mandate. Hinze disagrees with mandatory vaccination, reasoning, “It’s my health so it should be my choice. I don’t know if there are going to be repercussions in years to come with the vaccine.” The COVID-19 vaccine has only been released for a year, and long-term effects remain unknown. The vaccine was made in a single year, raising questions about its development when previous vaccines have been in development for 10-15 years. However, one thing is certain. Hinze added, “If you’re sick, stay home, and if you think you have COVID, get tested.”

   On the other hand, student Mia Gibson (11) urged people to get vaccinated to protect others as well. She addressed opposing opinions by adding, “There are many false rumors of the ‘harmful’ effects of the vaccine but none of these are true or have any decent evidence to back them up. And even if these rumors had some truth to them, the risk of getting COVID is much greater than any risk of getting vaccinated.” Gibson is very passionate about her position: “I encourage everyone to think of how their actions impact others around them!”

   At West High, free on-campus testing for students provides a safe and easy way to ensure the safety of yourself or others. COVID-19 testers Morgan and Tanisha spend their shift in the Performing Arts Center (PAC) on Monday through Friday. They have interacted with students, children, adults, staff, and residents of Torrance. The testing process is a self-test, involving a cotton swab and a 20-second swatch of each nostril.  At the end of the day, the tests get submitted to the Fulgent Genetics Lab. COVID testing is easily accessible and will only take a few minutes. Students should get tested if they are experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19.

   Newsom’s new vaccine mandate will not apply until FDA approval, but it should be anticipated. Students above 12 will need to get vaccinated to attend in-person school in California. Although opinions on the mandate differ widely, safety and caution remains paramount in the minds of policymakers, educators, and students.