THURSDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- California on Wednesday became the first state to require teachers and other school staff to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or else have to undergo weekly tests.
The announcement, made by Gov. Gavin Newsom, comes as a growing number of public and private employers nationwide implement vaccination mandates amid surging COVID-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant, The New York Times reported.
"To give parents confidence that their children are safe as schools return to full, in-person learning, we are urging all school staff to get vaccinated. Vaccinations are how we will end this pandemic," Newsom said in his announcement. "As a father, I look forward to the start of the school year and seeing all California kids back in the classroom."
Among the many large companies to issue vaccine mandates for employees returning to the office are Google, Disney, Microsoft and Tyson Foods.
Last month, Newsom said California would require health care workers and state employees to be vaccinated or to be tested at least once a week, theTimes reported. On Thursday, state health officials made the requirement even more stringent for many, removing the testing option for more than 2 million health care workers in the state.
Surveys show that about 90% of the 310,000 members of the California Teachers Association have been vaccinated, according to association spokeswoman Becky Zoglman.
The state's powerful teachers unions have pushed for extensive safety measures, including priority access to vaccines, the Times reported.
Vaccines are critical to "to make sure our schools and our communities are safe," Kyla Johnson-Trammell, superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District, said during a Wednesday media briefing.
"It's not a new thing to have immunizations in schools," Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, said Sunday on the NBC program "Meet the Press."
"And I think that on a personal matter, as a matter of personal conscience, I think that we need to be working with our employers, not opposing them, on vaccine mandates," Weingarten added.
She said she would push her union's leadership to reconsider its position against vaccine mandates, the Times reported.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on COVID vaccines.