Parents opposed to California's first-in-the-nation COVID-19 vaccine mandate for schoolchildren staged a protest on Monday at the state Capitol.
Parents also plan to keep their kids out of school in protest, KRCA-3 in Sacramento reported.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who escaped ouster in a recall election earlier this year, was the first in the U.S. to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for elementary school pupils, which comes even before the vaccines are cleared for emergency use on kids.
Thus far, only kids 16 and older are approved to be vaccinated.
Newsom has planned to enforce the mandate on kids in grades seven through 12 in California schools starting July 1, 2022, the first semester after the vaccines are approved by the FDA for emergency use for those under 16 years of age, according to the report.
"I'm not against anyone getting vaccinated," student Maddox Smith told the TV station. "I'm against being forced to get vaccinated. I think it's about power more than anything, not public health."
Immunization with the still-new COVID-19 vaccines should not be a requirement to attend school in the state, organizers wrote in the protest permit for 2,500 people. The California Highway Patrol approved the protest permit.
Parents objecting to forced vaccination are saying their only recourse would be to home-school their children, according to the report.
"How are we supposed to work and provide for our children?" parent Mariah Jones told KRCA. "So it's really not a choice."
Exempts for "medical reasons and personal beliefs" are permitted under Newsom's mandate, but the process for examining those is not yet established, according to the report.
In addition, Newsom's statewide mandate allows local school boards to enact their own mandates sooner. For years, California has required that students be vaccinated against measles, chickenpox and other diseases.
"Vaccines are how we end this pandemic," a Newsom spokesperson told KRCA.
"The state already requires that students are vaccinated against a range of viruses such as measles, mumps and rubella – there's no reason why we wouldn't do the same for COVID-19.
"This is about protecting our children and school staff, and keeping them in the classroom — these measures are why California leads national trends in preventing school closures and achieving the lowest case rates in the country."
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