News23ABC In-Depth


"My Kids, My Choice" parents protest vaccine mandate in Kern County

Posted: 4:10 PM, Oct 18, 2021
Updated: 2021-10-18 21:31:06-04
School Vaccine Mandate Protest, Bakersfield

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — “My kids, my choice.” It’s a conversation happening across the state of California as parents and students protest the California vaccine mandate for middle and high school students.

While the mandate doesn’t go into effect until January 1st or July 1st after the vaccine is fully approved by the FDA for students, parents are already fighting the mandate. Some said they even have the vaccine themselves but are worried about the side effects it may have on their children.

School Vaccine Mandate Protest, Bakersfield

Covering Kern County

Protesters speak out against school vaccine mandates in Kern County

Anthony Wright, 23ABC
11:24 AM, Oct 18, 2021

“I’m fighting for my kid’s freedom. This mandate is nothing. This shot doesn’t have enough research. There’s not enough studies. If it’s killing dogs and it’s killing people left and right, why are we going to put it in our children? Our children are our future. We have to stand up for them,” said Samantha Rogers, a Kern County Parent.

Reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are rare

More than 403 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through October 6, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 8,638 reports of death (0.0021%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and TTS, a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused deaths.

- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Rogers is just one of the thousands of parents that took to the streets today to protest that California vaccine mandate for students. Some parents also pulled their children out of school to express their stance on the requirement.

“Our message is simple, the government does not get to decide what goes into our bodies. The parents get to decide,” said a student protesting from Centennial High School.

Local pastor Angelo Fraizer said he wants to be a community voice in helping parents get more involved in the school system to protest the mandate.

Frazier said he’s not anti-vaccine he just doesn’t believe children should be forced to roll up their sleeves.

“I am not anti-vaccine at all. A matter of fact, I have my vaccine. I am just anti-mandates. I think people should have their choice especially when it comes to kids and these particular vaccines aren’t even approved by the FDA,” said Frazier.

Some kids were still in school on Monday. One parent told 23ABC they’re anti-vaccine but wanted their kids at school, and another parent is anti-mandate, but had to go to work and wanted their kids in class.

Robert Meszaros with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools issued the following statement early this morning before protesters gathered:

“We respect the right for people to peacefully advocate for their beliefs. However, protesting by keeping students out of school will only lead to lost learning time," said Meszaros.

Moreover, there is a lot of misinformation out there on this topic, here are some facts about the vaccine mandate the Kern County Superintendent of Schools wished to shed light on:

  • Requiring vaccinations to attend school is not a new concept. There have been requirements in both public and private schools for decades. See the details here on what shots are required when:
  • There are no immediate implications to the COVID-19 student vaccine requirement. This will likely not take effect until next school year for grades 7-12. The timeline is contingent on when the FDA grants full approval of the vaccine
  • As of now, there will be a personal belief exemption, so parents could opt out if they choose. This will remain true unless the state legislature votes otherwise. 
  • Finally, these mandates are not being made at the local level or by the schools. Decisions are made by the state and schools have a legal obligation to uphold them."  

But Rogers said if the mandate doesn’t change, she will take her three boys and potentially leave the state of California.

“My kids will be pulled out of school and possibly moving out of the state of California. We are not going to put up with it. My children are - like our sign says - they are not lab rats,” said Rogers. “We’re not here to be our science experiment. We’re here to learn and we’re here to grow and if the state of California is not going to support our decision, then we’re not going to stay here and support them.”

Current Vaccinations Required by California Schools

Immunizations required to enter 7th grade:

  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis booster (Tdap)
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)

Immunizations required to enter Kindergarten:

  • Polio
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP)
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)

Immunizations required to enter Child Care (depends on age when enrolling):

  • Polio
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP)
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)

The Superintendent of Schools also issued the following information:

Student Vax Mandate Final

Protester speaks out against vaccine mandates

Protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Kern County schools

Protesters speak out against COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Kern County schools