California’s Governor will make schoolchildren eligible for the first ever coronavirus vaccine mandate. Gavin Newsom stated Friday that he aims to get all seventh- through 12th grade students vaccinated next fall, once the shots have been approved by the federal government for all 12 years old.

According to the Democratic governor, he anticipates that the U.S. government will give the final approval sometime next year. This is an increase from the emergency authorization granted now to those 12-15.

He stated that the state would require all students from kindergarten through sixth grade to receive the vaccine after final federal approval is given for children aged 5 to 11.

Newsom stated that “We need to do more” during a press conference held at a San Francisco middle-school after meeting with seventh-graders. “We want this pandemic to be ended. It is exhausting for us all.”

A few school districts have implemented their own vaccine mandates. California has five of them. Other states, however, have refused to impose pandemic rules upon schools. This includes a new law in Kentucky that overturned an existing statewide mandate for masks.

Newsom is one of the most active governors in coronavirus restrictions. He issued the first national statewide stay at home order in March 2020, and required California’s roughly 2.25 million health care workers to be vaccinated.

After defeating the recall effort last week, which was fueled by anger at his handling of pandemic, the governor appears to have felt more confident. He claims he took his victory in a landslide as endorsement of his vaccine policies.

Newsom doesn’t endorse all vaccine mandates. However, he recently opposed a similar requirement for guards in prison that a federal court imposed. Critics used this example to argue that Newsom is more driven by politics than science. They also noted that the labor union representing corrections officers had contributed to his campaign to defeat recall.

“California children made the mistake of not giving million to his campaigns,” Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley tweeted Friday .

California’s 84% rate of children 12 years old and older have received at least one dose, which is one of the highest rates of vaccination in the country. Newsom stated Friday that only 63.5% have received the vaccine among those aged 12-17.

He made his announcement as COVID-19 infection rates in California have fallen significantly in the past month.

Los Angeles County, the largest county in the country, has just 1.7% of those tested positive for the virus. Daily infections have fallen by half since the beginning of the month, when most children returned to school.

“These numbers are amazing given that 3,000+ schools are now opened countywide,” Barbara Ferrer, county Health Director, said Thursday. She noted that although the number of school-related outbreaks has increased in recent weeks, it is still small.

The directive was supported by California’s largest teachers unions and the California Association of School Boards. President of the California Medical Association Dr. Peter N. Bretah said that the group supports the mandate to provide vaccines for students.

This isn’t a new idea. Bretan stated that students must be vaccinated against several deadly diseases before they can enroll in schools. “The Newsom administration is simply expanding existing public health protections in order to cover this new disease that has caused so much pain, suffering, and destruction across our country, our nation, and around the globe, over the past 18 months,” Bretan said.

However, the requirement will undoubtedly anger parents who doubt the effectiveness of vaccines. More than thousand people protested against mandatory vaccines at the California Capitol last month.

Although students would be allowed to claim religious or medical exemptions, the rules of how the state would apply them are not yet clear. Students who refuse to receive the vaccine will be required to enroll in an independent course at home.

Newsom had previously left student vaccine mandates up to local school districts. This led to many different orders in some of the largest districts of the state. Los Angeles is the second-largest school district in the country, and a mandate will be in place for students to get vaccines.

Newsom’s plan doesn’t override the plans of these districts, but states that school districts can “accelerate” the requirements.

Newsom is proud to have issued a number of pandemic-related school orders as the first person in the country.

California became the first state in August to require teachers and staff of K-12 public and private schools that they be vaccinated and undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Newsom also issued an earlier school mask mandate in August for indoor classes. This mandate applies to all teachers as well as students.