The New Orleans government announced it will expand its mandate for a COVID-19 vaccine, or negative test, to include children aged 5 and older for indoor settings.
New Orleans’ decision comes as its public school system is also introducing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students aged 5 and up, making it the first such requirement of its kind in the United States, reported Nola.com.
“We will require proof of vaccination or a negative test at bars and restaurants and other locations for everyone ages 5 and over. Children ages 5 to 11 will be required to show proof of at least one vaccine dose,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said at a press conference.
That mandate will start on Jan. 3.
The requirement will expand to two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, by Feb. 1, which is four weeks before Mardi Gras begins on March 1. A negative test will also still suffice.
The school COVID-19 mandates will also be in effect Feb. 1.
Earlier this week, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state’s health department will add the COVID-19 vaccine to Louisiana’s list of required immunizations for students.
“All of Louisiana’s current opt-out provisions for parents will remain in place, meaning no child is forced to get a vaccine if their parents object in writing,” according to a press release from his office.
Previously, New Orleans’ vaccine mandate applied to those aged 12 and up. Only the Los Angeles United School District has imposed a similar school mandate for children aged 12 and older, and offers the COVID-19 vaccine to the 5 to 11 age group. The school district delayed its December COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline for children aged 12 and up until the fall of 2022 after some 28,000 students remain unvaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 on Nov. 2.
Louisiana has 56.5 percent of its population having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 49 percent fully vaccinated, as of Dec. 14.