Californians React to Newsom’s Vaccine Requirement for Public School Students

By Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis
Drew Van Voorhis is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. He has been a journalist for four years, during which time he has broken several viral national news stories and has been interviewed for his work on both radio and internet shows.
October 1, 2021 Updated: October 5, 2021

As California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Oct. 1 that all public school children will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine after it receives full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Californians shared conflicting responses to the news and how it may affect them and their children.

Currently, the government has approved the Pfizer vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and above, and older high school students in either public or private schools will be required to get the shot.

Additionally, only emergency authorization for the vaccine has been granted for 12- to 15-year-olds, meaning that when the FDA approves it for that age group, seventh-graders and above will need to get it prior to attending class.

The requirement is likely to be implemented by either January or July 2022.

Mari Barke, chair of the Orange County Board of Education, said that it should be up to parents to decide what’s best for children.

“I’m certainly not proud that California is the first state to mandate this. I think parents are the best to make these types of decisions for their children, so I’m very disappointed,” Barke told The Epoch Times.

“I believe strongly in parental rights and parents knowing what’s best for their children. This vaccine has had the least testing of any vaccine. It’s not a virus that is killing lots of children unless they have severe co-morbidities, and I think it’s government overreach.”

Barke said that due to this measure, she believes a lot of parents will be taking their children out of school in order to homeschool them. Many parents don’t want their children masked in school, let alone vaccinated, she said.

“I really think you’re going to see a huge amount of children coming out of schools and being homeschooled,” she said. “We’re not in a state of emergency. We’re not in one for adults, never mind children.”

Epoch Times Photo
A medical volunteer prepares the Moderna coronavirus vaccination for a patient at Lestonnac Free Clinic in Orange, Calif., on March 9, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Jon Schrank, a parent of a student within Tustin Unified School District, said he feels the move is “typical government overreach.”

“[The mandate is] not unexpected. As soon as Newsom won the recall, we all sort of knew that all these little things were going to start to come about from him,” Schrank told The Epoch Times.

“My opinion is, it’s typical government overreach. I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I’m pro-choice, and that’s your business, it’s not my business. So the fact that they’re making this happen for a bunch of kids that have no risk of really getting terribly ill from it [is not good].

Schrank said that those who are for the mandate will argue that the students will spread it to the adults who are more vulnerable, but he pointed out that if the adults are vaccinated, that should take care of the problem.

“If you’re worried about it, get the vaccination, that’s your business,” he said. “I don’t think we need to have the government telling us what we need to do with our children. That’s my point of view. If I want to get the vaccine for my kid, then I would do it. If I don’t want to do it, that should be my choice. … It’s no longer about personal choice, it’s about government intervention.”

Schrank added that the mandate will likely only force parents to put their children back into virtual education like last year, which caused many students to fall behind.

Epoch Times Photo
California Governor Gavin Newsom discusses the state’s plan for homelessness initiatives in Los Angeles on Sept. 29, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

On Twitter, Newsom cited other vaccination requirements as evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine should be required as well.

“CA will require our kids to get the COVID-19 vaccine to come to school,” the governor wrote on Twitter. “This will go into effect following full FDA approval. Our schools already require vaccines for measles, mumps and more. Why? Because vaccines work. This is about keeping our kids safe & healthy.”

Others were also supportive of the measure, referring to it as a common-sense solution to the pandemic.

“This common sense measure will save lives!” Gabriel Olvera wrote in a tweet.

“Thank you! Our kids deserve a safe healthy school! Our school in Fresno county still not wearing masks! Teachers have been out, kids have been out! Let’s get this done!” Myrna Ansel also noted on Twitter.

“I appreciate the vaccination mandate. I just hope this leads to an off ramp for masking and all the other covid protocols in schools. I want to be able to volunteer in the classroom again and the kids to also have some of the fun things school brings,” Krissy Reagan added in a comment.

Drew Van Voorhis is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. He has been a journalist for four years, during which time he has broken several viral national news stories and has been interviewed for his work on both radio and internet shows.