D.C. students who are 12 and older must be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend school this upcoming academic year.

D.C. schools expand covid vaccine mandate, unlike most other districts

The youth vaccine mandate in D.C. is among the strictest in the nation, according to health experts, and is being enacted in a city with wide disparities in vaccination rates between its White and Black children. Overall, about 85 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 15 have been vaccinated against the virus, but the rate drops to 60 percent among Black children in this age range. If the city does not close this gap but does strictly enforce the vaccine mandate this fall, students of color — who experienced disproportionately large academic setbacks during the pandemic — could be at home in significant numbers next academic year. Our goal is that no child should miss a single day of school,” Asad Bandealy, the chief of the D.C. Department of Health’s Health Care Access Bureau, said at a news conference this week at Mary’s Center, a community health clinic where children can be vaccinated. “And that means we need to get started now.”

D.C. is one of few districts to make coronavirus vaccination a requirement for attending school. The mandate reflects, in part, the city’s unique education governance structure. The requirement came from the 13-member D.C. Council, not from a school board. And because D.C. is a federal district rather than a state, there is no state health agency with which the city can be in conflict Elsewhere in the country, the New Orleans public school system in February added the coronavirus vaccine to its list of required immunizations for children 5 years and older. The rest of the state was scheduled to do the same for the upcoming school year, but changed course in May because the vaccines did not yet have full approval from the Food and Drug Administration for children under 16. Full approval for the vaccine for ages 12 to 15 was granted in early July. Some of the country’s largest school districts are encouraging but not mandating that children be vaccinated. Students in New York City public schools must be vaccinated against the coronavirus only if they plan to participate in certain sports, musical theater or other activities the district deems to be “high-risk.” Los Angeles Unified School District delayed a mandate that was to take effect in the fall, pointing to the vaccination rates among older students and what the district’s superintendent said had been low transmission in schools.

Source: This news is originally published by washingtonpost

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