California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
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  • California will become the first US state to require schoolchildren to be vaccinated, its governor announced on Friday.
  • All children who receive in-person teaching will be required to be vaccinated.
  • The first phase of requirement will be for children from grade 7, before being extended to kindergarten.
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California is the first state in the country that will require schoolchildren to get vaccinated against Covid-19, its Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Friday.

The state-wide requirement adds to "a well-established list that currently includes 10 vaccinations," Newsom said at a press conference.

"We want to get this disease behind us."

The mandate will apply to all who receive in-person instruction, Newsom said, and will begin in the first school term that follows full authorisation of a Covid-19 vaccine for children by the US Food and Drug Administration — either in January 1 or July 1, 2022.

The first phase will apply to children in grades 7 through 12, after which the requirement will extend to those entering kindergarten.

Medical and religious exemptions will be consistent with those for other vaccines, Newsom said.

In August, the FDA issued a full authorisation for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, approving its use for all ages 12 and above. It is expected to authorise the vaccine for children over the age of 5 before the end of the year.

Some school districts in California have already elected to require the vaccine. In August, the state also mandated that school staff either get vaccinated or be tested once a week.

Children are already required to be immunised against polio, measles, hepatitis, and chickenpox, among other diseases, before entering kindergarten. As of 2016, parents can no longer get out of the requirement by citing a "personal belief."

Once children are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, Newsom said, all staff will be required to as well, eliminating the test exemption.

As of September 28, 63% of children in California between the ages of 12 and 17 have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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