SAN DIEGO — As parents across the state of California plan a walkout from schools to protest against a COVID vaccine mandate, organizers are calling for students and staff to join the rally Monday in Balboa Park.
“We want to have a choice in this matter,” parent Leslie Hofmeister said.
Hofmeister plans to protest against California’s vaccine mandate for children in order to attend in-person classes.
Governor Gavin Newsom signed the requirement for children at public and private schools earlier this month. The vaccine only has emergency authorization for kids 12 and older, and studies are ongoing regarding vaccinating kids aged 5 to 11.
“There’s 10 vaccines,” Newsom said. “Measles, mumps, rubella. I can go on and on and on. So this is just another vaccine.”
The vaccine requirement will take effect at the start of the term following full approval of that grade span, to be defined as Jan. 1 or July 1, whichever comes first, according to the state.
However, some parents said the requirement violates their freedom of choice.
“We don’t want to be forced to vaccinate our children in order for them to receive an in-person education,” Hofmeister said. “Our kids need to be in school and so we’re standing up collectively to say we’re not OK with vaccine mandates.”
Students who don’t get vaccinated will be required to do independent study, but there are medical and personal belief exemptions.
“It’s a breach of our personal freedom and choice for our own children and we don’t know the long term outcomes of vaccinations,” Hofmeister said. “This is a new and experimental treatment, and we believe that we should be able to choose whether or not to inject that into our children.”
Teachers and staff are also required to get the vaccine or submit to testing.
The rally will take place at the Organ Pavilion at Balboa Park from 8-11 a.m.
(Liberty Zabala contributed to this report.)