Austin Beutner, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, said Monday that students will have to receive the inoculation once it is available before heading back into the classroom, according to a report.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Beutner compared the move to how schools already require vaccinations for measles and mumps. He said that he hopes all students in the system will be vaccinated by January 2022.
The paper reported that he made the comments during a pre-recorded briefing and told parents who are skeptical about the vaccine that there is the option for “a child to stay online learning and therefore not have to go back to campus.”
The Pfizer vaccine authorized in the U.S. last month is for people 16 and older. Testing began in October in children as young as 12 and is expected to take several more months. The Food and Drug Administration will have to decide when there’s enough data to allow emergency use in this age group.
Dr. Robert Frenck, who is the lead researcher for Pfizer’s study in kids at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, told the Associated Press in December that even though children usually don’t get very sick from COVID-19, they can spread the virus to others.
At least 1.6 million youth have been infected, 8,000 have been hospitalized and 162 have died from the virus, he noted.
The Times pointed out that Beutner did not suggest that schools stay closed until all children are inoculated.