Students across Orange County and the state will have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus either beginning January or next July, following a Friday announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

But it all depends on when the FDA fully authorizes the vaccine for certain age groups, Newsom said. 

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“We want to end this pandemic. We are all exhausted by it. And the purpose of this is to continue to lead in that space. I believe we will be the first state in America to move forward with this mandate and requirement,” Newsom told reporters from a San Francisco elementary school classroom Friday morning. 

Currently, the vaccine is authorized for people 12 and over and has full FDA approval for people 16 years and older.

Until the full FDA approval, Newsom said it “will give us time to work with districts, work with parents.”

“This is great for public health as it will help reduce transmission in schools, households and in the community,” Sanghyuk Shin, UC Irvine epidemiologist and public health said in a Friday afternoon text message.

The move is likely to spark some pushback from parents across the state. 

Locally, parents and advocacy groups have been showing up to school board meetings to protest masks and vaccines.  

“None of this is easy and I recognize that there is still anxiety out there,” Newsom said. 

Newsom said there’s exemptions for personal, medical and religious reasons. 

“Once the FDA approves the vaccination with different cohorts … we will begin to apply that requirement in the next term. Either January 1 or July 1, whichever comes sooner,” Newsom said. 

It’s the latest in an increasing trend of requiring vaccinations. 

A couple months ago, Newsom required vaccines for all state employees, medical workers and school staff. 

“We haven’t been standing still on this pandemic, quite the contrary,” Newsom said. 

He also said there’s already required vaccines for students. 

“There’s 10 vaccines, measles, mumps … I could go on and on and on.”

Positivity rates and new cases have been declining across the state, including Orange County. 

Locally, the virus has now killed 5,432 people. 

That’s five times more people than the flu kills in two years, on average.

Orange County has averaged around 20,000 deaths a year since 2016, including 543 annual flu deaths, according to state health data.

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