Vaccine deadline looms for L.A. school district student athletes

·3 min read

The push to vaccinate students against COVID is moving to after-school activities in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles students involved in sports and extra-curricular programs face a deadline to get fully vaccinated by the end of October. 

Schools like the East Los Angeles school Garfield High School will pull unvaccinated teens from their favorite sport or after-school activity if they are not vaccinated. 

"Depending on the type of activity, obviously they're in school a little bit longer. They're around each other in closer proximity," Garfield High School Principal Andres Favela told CBS News' Lilia Luciano. 

Many of the 2,400 students who attend Garfield High School know firsthand the devastation COVID-19 can cause. 

The predominantly Latino community was one of the hardest-hit areas in LA. That's part of the reason why the entire Garfield High School football team got vaccinated weeks ahead of the mandate deadline. 

Favela said he's already seen a decrease in positive cases among students since the school district announced its vaccine mandate. He said despite some parents believing it's up to them to decide when kids should be vaccinated, the high school's requirement is in line with local and state mandates

"We definitely understand that perspective. We're not forcing this on anybody. We feel as a district that's in line with the state and federal government that vaccination is the clear path to returning to school safely, back to normal," said Favela.

But not everyone was convinced at first. Quarterback Jaison Vargas said he and his family had their doubts. 

"People were saying they had like other health issues with it. It wasn't safe for them, so we weren't sure and we kind of waited until the last minute. And I had to get it because I wanted to continue my football season and I wanted to keep everybody safe," Vargas said.  

Some concerned parents have been calling Football Coach Lorenzo Hernandez to voice their hesitation.

"You know, we did hear some things from some parents that were concerned but we always assured them of the science and one thing I always use as an example I said. You know what? I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think it was safe," Hernandez said.

According to the CCD, unvaccinated teens are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to those who have gotten the shots. 

So for Christian and Monica Ramos, who have two boys on the football team, the mandate makes just as much sense as a helmet and pads. 

"It sets an example because if high school kids can do it, adults can do it. I don't see why not," Monica Ramos said. 

Favela said about 30% of all students, regardless of whether they take part in after-school activities, still need to be fully vaccinated by January 10. 

If they don't and don't have a qualified exemption like a medical reason, they will not be permitted on campus and will be referred to an independent study program instead. 

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