OAKLAND, California – The Oakland Unified School District is holding meetings with parents to answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students that the school board passed last week.
The first meeting on Monday was held in Spanish. A second meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Dr Noah Aboelata of the Roots Community Clinic said it is important to listen to parents and students and understand their concerns. She says the goal of the meetings is to dispel misinformation and provide accurate information to the community so they can understand the facts about COVID19 vaccines.
Aboelata is also part of a âBlack and Vaxxedâ movement that has launched a new online effort to increase vaccination rates in the black community through Black Women Organized for Political Action or BWOPA with information on their website. to involve community members:
âLess than half of black and brown teens are fully immunized,â said Mike Hutchinson, district 5 director of the OUSD board of directors, adding that data from Alameda County indicates that students of color are ‘Oakland could be more affected by the vaccination mandate than others. groups.
Hutchinson voted against the mandate. He says that while the district is developing the plan, it is concerned about students of color and their education as the district currently lacks the capacity to absorb large numbers of unvaccinated children in the wards. virtual classroom.
Nkaah Prosper Ade Yingshine, a 7th grade student in Oakland, is one of the students who received the Pfizer vaccine.
“It was scary, but I got over it,” Prosper said, “Kids have to make a choice to get it or not to get it.”
His mother, Renata Porkolab, is a nurse and says she supported him to get the vaccine, but wonders about young children.
FOLLOWING: COVID vaccine mandate for Oakland school students could be in place by January
âI believe in prevention but it’s difficult because we still don’t know the long-term effects,â Porkolab said.
âI have four children and three of them are vaccinated,â said Nicol Thome, another relative from Oakland who also works in the health care field. “I am definitely in favor. I work in a hospital and I think the vaccine will do wonders in ending the pandemic.”
Thome says she supports the mandate but recognizes that some families may face obstacles.
âThere is definitely a disparity in health care for people of color, without a doubt. And I think it has a lot to do with the dissemination of information, the truth. It has a lot to do with the provision of resources, âsays Thome.
Hutchinson says the state should step up and take action, without leaving it to local school districts. He says he’s worried the district will face legal challenges once the mandate goes into effect early next year.
âThis gives us by January, hopefully, the state to take action and provide guidance and hopefully an implementation plan to cover our unvaccinated students,â Hutchinson said.
“There is still legal uncertainty as to whether you can impose a vaccine under an EUA,” said Dorit Reiss, professor of law at UC Hastings, an expert in vaccine law.
Reiss says the mandates for the other vaccines are all set by the state, which has not added any COVID-19 vaccines to their list.
“If the state took action, there would be no question. It would be legal, but for school districts, it’s trickier,” Reiss said.
Reiss says districts also have difficult decisions such as implementation and which exemptions to accept.
âUnder state law, there is only one medical exemption. California has not offered a non-medical exemption since 2015, when we abolished it. So, there is a question, will the district go further and offer more exemptions? Said Reiss.
The Oakland Unified School District is holding pop-up clinics for the free COVID vaccine at 10 Oakland school sites and two community centers over the coming months.
The superintendent is expected to present the vaccine mandate implementation plan to the board by the end of October.
For more information on OUSD clinics and vaccines, click here.
Jana Katsuyama is a journalist for KTVU. Email Jana at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.