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CA: Vaccine for All School Employees


Last updated 8/25/2021 at 12:08pm

Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Aug. 11 a vaccine mandate for teachers and staff at all California public schools, as the state becomes the first in the country to implement this.

This announcement comes as coronavirus cases continue to rise across California and around the nation, as well as multiple variants making its way through.

During the news conference, Governor Newsom said that all employees of California public schools must either be vaccinated or submit to a regular test proving they are not infected with COVID-19.

“To give parents confidence that their children are safe as schools return to full, in-person learning, we are urging all school staff to get vaccinated. Vaccinations are how we will end this pandemic,” Governor Newsom said in a statement. “As a father, I look forward to the start of the school year and seeing all California kids back in the classroom.”

This new policy took into effect on Aug. 12, and schools must be in full compliance by Oct. 15.

Borrego Springs Unified School District Superintendent Mark Stevens commented on the new mandate, stating, “While the ever-changing requirements on school districts has been challenging over the past year and a half, the District holds both the education and safety of our students to be paramount. The District will comply with state and local mandates. ”

In part of this new mandate, it adds to the state’s COVID-19 guidance for schools, dubbed as “modified quarantine.”

Modified quarantine is for unvaccinated students who are exposed to COVID-19, and allows the student to continue in-person instruction in the same classroom if they are asymptomatic. It is unclear if this has changed since the time of print.

Masks must still be worn indoors, and students must undergo at least twice weekly testing during the 10-day modified quarantine. The affected students must abstain from extracurricular activities during the quarantine. More information on this can be found on the CDPH website.

However, it is unclear if this will change as the days go on. CDPH will continue to assess conditions on an ongoing basis, and will determine no later than November 1, 2021, whether to update mask requirements or recommendations.

California has administered over 335,000 new first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, a 24% increase over the previous two weeks and a 62% increase compared to the week of July 5 – 11.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reversed course on some mask guidelines, recommending that even those who are vaccinated return to wearing masks indoors.

The new guidance follows the recent decision in Los Angeles to revert to indoor mask mandates amid a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The country is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. It is unclear when or if San Diego County will follow suit.

Most new infections in the U.S. continue to be among unvaccinated people. But “breakthrough” infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people. When earlier strains of the virus predominated, infected vaccinated people were found to have low levels of virus and were deemed unlikely to spread the virus much, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

But with the delta variant, the level of virus in infected vaccinated people is “indistinguishable” from the level of virus in the noses and throats of unvaccinated people, Walensky said.

Vaccinated people “have the potential to spread that virus to others,” she said.

The FDA also authorized on Aug. 13 a third does of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for those with compromised immune systems to better protect them from the virus.

This comes after a panel of advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met in July and urged action on extra doses for immunocompromised adults.

Those who are severely immunocompromised include patients taking immune-suppressing medicines because of organ transplants, cancer treatment and people with HIV, among others, or other disorders.

The FDA made no mention of immune-compromised patients who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine because there was not sufficient data on the issue, according to the agency.

Governor Newsom also issued a similar mandate for employees of state agencies, and state medical workers. There are some religious and health exemptions.

On Aug. 11, a new order also went into effect for California that requires all hospital visitors would be required to show proof of full vaccination or a negative coronavirus test performed within the previous 72 hours.

In addition, the state is also requiring that health care workers and long term care workers be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30. The order is different than what Governor Newsom said back in July, stating that health care workers would have the choice of either getting vaccinated or submitting to weekly testing.

However, now the order does not give them a choice, as all must be fully vaccinated by the end of September, with exceptions for people who decline the vaccine because of a religious belief or workers who cannot be inoculated because of a qualifying medical reason backed up by a note signed by a licensed medical professional.

“Health care facilities are high-risk settings where COVID-19 outbreaks can have severe consequences for vulnerable populations including hospitalization, severe illness, and death. By requiring health care workers to be fully vaccinated and visitors to acute care facilities to demonstrate they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19, California is protecting the most vulnerable individuals, while also protecting workers in these settings,” the state Department of Public Health said in a press release.

As more governments, businesses and institutions implement COVID-19 vaccine mandates allowing for religious exemptions, Catholic leaders across the nation remain divided over whether or not they should sign off.

To clear up any confusion in San Diego, Bishop Robert McElroy asked local priests to “caringly decline” any requests for endorsement from parishioners seeking a religious exemption from a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“Such a declaration is particularly problematic because the Holy See has made it clear that receiving the [COVID-19] vaccine is perfectly consistent with Catholic faith, and indeed laudatory in light of the common good in this time of pandemic,” McElroy wrote in a letter to priests in the diocese.

Religious exemptions are included in several recent mandates, including two set by Governor Newsom in schools and in health care settings.

McElroy said the church stands behind all vaccines as an act of love towards one’s neighbor.

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