Vaccine Mandates on the Horizon

Those who are still delaying coronavirus vaccines may start to see their lives become more difficult.

In the midst of a surge of the COVID-19 Delta variant, the State of California is requiring all school employees in grades TK-12 be vaccinated against COVID-19. This follows behind California’s new health order mandating vaccines for all state healthcare workers by the end of September. In August, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education also passed a resolution requiring vaccinations of all district employees, plus indoor and outdoor masking and regular testing.

Although there may not be unanimity on vaccine mandates, they are on the horizon. Cities, businesses and other Southern California entities are taking steps and announcing deadlines requiring inoculations in order to enter venues and participate in group activities as a way of slowing and stopping the spread of COVID-19. The LA County Supervisors announced they are exploring a mandate for indoor dining, as is the City of Los Angeles.

While preparing for in-person instruction beginning Aug. 19 as local case numbers increase, SMMUSD Superintendent Ben Drati issued a statement.

“If I err, I must err on the side of ensuring that we have been overly cautious and health-protective, not that we have fallen short and taken unnecessary risks in the face of this new delta variant,” Drati wrote. “I must also use what is available to maximize and maintain the continuity of learning by doing our best to keep students and staff on campus throughout this journey.”

Drati said he felt “sad” that the measures were considered necessary, but that the district was “making the best of an unfortunate scenario.” That includes weekly testing for students and staff.

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“We will do our best to ensure that testing is understandable, simple, gentle and not scary,” Drati wrote. “While we will be requiring outdoor masking for unsupervised time where many students are congregating, we will also do our best to identify appropriate times where supervision and physical distancing is possible, making outdoor masking unnecessary. We will monitor the progress of the virus, and when it is appropriate to loosen our requirements, we will do so.”

The Las Virgenes Unified School District, which borders Malibu to the north, will eventually require coronavirus vaccines for employees once the inoculations receive full federal authorization, which is expected in a couple of months.

Los Angeles Unified School District has set its vaccination deadline for employees for Oct. 15.

Although Pepperdine University is not requiring vaccinations—its vaccine policy allows for exemptions—it has announced a rigorous testing regime. Routine screening testing for all students, faculty and staff will be required regardless of vaccination status. This includes a rapid/antigen PCR test 72 hours before arrival on campus, self-screening and on-campus testing.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is looking into options requiring residents and visitors to show proof of vaccination to enter indoor spaces such as restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and public venues. Vaccines are now required to enter medical facilities, including nursing homes. There has been no discussion of vaccine requirements from Malibu City Council and the item is not on the Aug. 23 city council agenda.

Some private businesses around the county have already been asking for proof of vaccination in order to enter. Large companies requiring vaccinations for employees returning to offices include The Walt Disney Company, Facebook, Google, United Airlines, Walgreens, Walmart, DoorDash and Cisco, just to name a few. Numerous other private employers have given vaccine requirement deadlines with most issuing exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

While there is currently no internationally recognized vaccine passport system, the State of California has a portal to register for its digitally accepted vaccination status. Go to myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov.

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