LA School District Mandates COVID-19 Vaccine for Children 12 and Up

Child receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

FG Trade / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • All students aged 12 and up in the Los Angeles Unified School District must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • The deadline for all students to be vaccinated is January 10, 2022.
  • Students who participate in in-person extracurricular activities must be vaccinated sooner.

All children who attend Los Angeles’ public schools who are aged 12 and up must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January to attend in-person schooling. The Los Angeles Unified School District, which serves students in Los Angeles and surrounding areas, approved the order on Thursday.

“The vaccine is safe, effective, and the best way to keep our students protected against the virus," Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Kelly Gonez said in a tweet about the announcement. “The vaccine is safe, effective, & the best way to keep our students protected against the virus. We will work to ensure families have reliable medical information in the coming weeks.”

California’s Culver City Unified School District is thought to be the first district in the country to require COVID-19 vaccines for eligible students when it announced its mandate several weeks ago. But Los Angeles Unified is the country’s second-largest school system, and the first district of its size to require vaccination.

Los Angeles Unified district officials said in a press release that the vaccination requirement is an “additional step” to provide “another layer of safety in schools” alongside existing COVID-19 safety protocols.

Some of these other protocols in place include:

  • Daily health checks for everyone going onto school campuses
  • Masks
  • Comprehensive COVID-19 testing
  • Contact tracing and isolation of cases
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Increased sanitization and cleaning of schools
  • Upgraded ventilation

How Does the Mandate Work?

The Los Angeles Unified schools district is requiring all students who are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to be fully vaccinated by January 10, 2022, unless they have a qualified exemption.

The district stated that the only qualified exemption is a medical exemption, but didn’t explain further. The district also made it clear it will not accept religious or personal belief exemptions, stating, “state law does not recognize” those exemptions for student immunizations.

Currently, only children aged 12 and up are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. Students in the school system who are 12 and older and participate in in-person extracurricular activities must receive their first dose of the vaccine by no later than October 3 and their second dose by no later than October 31.

Those who are 12 and older, but do not participate in these activities, must receive their first dose no later than November 21 and their second dose by December 19.

The district also addressed students who are not yet 12, saying that they must receive their first vaccine dose no later than 30 days after their twelfth birthday and their second dose no later than eight weeks after their twelfth birthday. It's not clear what the deadline will be for students once the vaccine is approved for younger populations.

Once a student is vaccinated, they must upload their proof of vaccination to the district’s online Daily Pass account, which allows parents and students to book PCR COVID-19 tests and answer health check screening questions.

What This Means For You

This COVID-19 vaccine mandate impacts students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, but experts expect other districts across the country to create similar mandates in the coming months. However, experts urge COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 12 and up, whether the vaccine is required in your area or not.

Other School Districts Will Likely Follow Suit

Doctors are applauding the move.

“I strongly support it,” Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Verywell. “It takes leadership and courage to make difficult, yet necessary decisions.” 

Infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Verywell that the district is “trying to use the best tool possible to keep COVID-19 from disrupting in-person schooling.”

Given the size of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Adalja says he anticipates it will spark similar mandates in school districts across the country.

“Since this is the second biggest school district in the country, it will likely prompt others to follow suit,” he says.

Adalja urges parents to strongly consider vaccination against COVID-19 for their children, regardless of whether their school district has a mandate.

“The COVID vaccines are safe and effective and the risk/benefit analysis favors vaccinating children," he says. "A simple vaccine makes COVID a non-issue for a child."

Watkins agrees. “The benefits far outweigh the risks,” he says. “You don't want COVID-19 and you don't want your child to get it.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Los Angeles Unified School District. Los Angeles Unified to Require All Students 12 and Older to be Vaccinated Against COVID-19 by January 10, 2022. September 9, 2021.

  2. Los Angeles Unified School District. Safe Steps to Safe Schools. September 9, 2021.

  3. Los Angeles Unified School District. Frequently Asked Questions. September 9, 2021.

By Korin Miller
Korin Miller is a health and lifestyle journalist who has been published in The Washington Post, Prevention, SELF, Women's Health, The Bump, and Yahoo, among other outlets.