Vaccine campaigns: What’s working?
September 6, 2021
California school districts and Local Educational Agencies are working alongside public health departments to encourage their students, staff and communities to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
With full approval for the Pfizer vaccine granted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Aug. 23 and a surge in cases caused by the Delta variant, many more public and private employers are expected to require the shot.
Here is a round-up of how some education organizations are approaching vaccination efforts.
Los Angeles Unified School District is mandating all employees be vaccinated by Oct. 15 with no testing option, LAUSD Interim Superintendent Megan Reilly announced Aug. 13.
“The vaccine mandate has been received well by our communities, especially parents of children who are too young to be vaccinated,” said LAUSD Medical Director Dr. Smita Malhotra, who joined ACSA’s Legislative Lunch Break on Aug. 25. “Ultimately it is the right thing to do, and I think many people understood that.”
The district has also been offering appointments for students and staff to participate in school-based vaccination clinics. Mobile vaccination teams are also visiting every middle and high school to deliver first and second doses.
LAUSD has a medical and religious exemption process for vaccines, however, all employees not exempted in this process are expected to vaccinate by Oct. 15 or find other employment.
“There will be a point in time where the pandemic peaks and then there’s less cases, but it won’t happen if we don’t get more people vaccinated, and so that is the next push for LAUSD,” Malhotra said. “We are taking all the steps possible that we as a school district are taking an active role in mitigating this public health crisis.”
Culver City USD
Culver City Unified School District has required all eligible staff and students to have the COVID-19 vaccine for in-person learning. The K-12 district in Los Angeles County is giving families until Nov. 19 to show proof of vaccination, according to a letter sent to families prior to the start of school. It appears to be the first district in the state and perhaps the country to require vaccination for both staff and eligible students.
Marin County
A recent Learning Policy Institute blog post on safe school reopening highlighted efforts by the Marin County Office of Education to increase vaccination rates.
“One MCOE administrator described vaccinations as ‘a hard sell in the beginning,’ which led to intensive, individualized outreach and communication efforts, and a strategic decision to operate vaccination clinics in schools with the highest percentages of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches, where vaccine hesitancy could be addressed with care and compassion,” according to the blog post.
To increase its staff vaccination rate, MCOE leaders also followed up with employees who did not attend free weekend vaccination clinics or did not have proof of vaccination. By July 2021, 100 percent of MCOE’s central office employees had been vaccinated.
Public health officers also found trusted voices to promote vaccination in the community. “Outreach efforts avoided shaming and instead engaged in nonjudgmental, one-on-one conversations,” according to the blog.
The Latino/a community in Marin City, which initially lagged far behind the white population, is now 86 percent fully vaccinated, with another 12 percent having received a first dose, according to LPI.
CAAASA: Let’s Vax, Then Relax
Another vaccination campaign highlighted in the LPI blog was launched by the California Association of African-American Superintendents and Administrators to address vaccine hesitancy in communities of color.
Working with five school districts and community-based organizations in the Antelope Valley, CAAASA has vaccinated more than 300 people and connected families to crucial information about vaccinations and support services through a team of Family Ambassadors.
“During several events hosted in 2021, CAAASA provided educators and community members with opportunities to hear from Black medical professionals, who explained the impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color, dispelled myths about the vaccine, and answered questions from participants,” according to the post.
With support from the Centers for Disease Control Foundation, CAAASA recently launched “Let’s VAX, THEN Relax,” an initiative to continue disseminating information about vaccines and other critical topics through five town hall meetings.
The first webinar, held at a local church, allowed attendees to ask questions of trusted medical experts and hear stories from other residents who have been vaccinated against or impacted by COVID-19.
California Department of Education
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has been promoting the importance of vaccines through a series of virtual webinars, town halls and school site visits.
“There is nothing more important now. I am using every ounce of energy I can to continue to shout this from the rooftops.”
— Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, on vaccination efforts
A vaccine town hall in August featured California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, State Lead of the Safe Schools for All Team Dr. Naomi Bardach, civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, activist Dr. Karen Korematsu, and youth leaders Rana Banankhah, a Modesto High School senior who was recently appointed to the State Board of Education, and Dorian Jones, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento. The virtual event reached a half million homes and engaged more than 50,000 people.
Thurmond has also written a letter to parents and guardians that stressed that vaccines are safe, effective, free, and given to all individuals living in the U.S. regardless of insurance or immigration status.
“Please help us protect your child, their teacher, and every student by getting vaccinated today,” Thurmond wrote in the letter, which will be shared with families through school districts and by parent engagement partners. “We encourage you and everyone in your family who is 12 and older to get vaccinated — it can save lives.”
In his appeal, Thurmond reminded parents and guardians that vaccine clinics are convenient; without need for appointment, as many school districts hold walk-in clinics for staff, students, and families; and are also available at retail locations, community clinics and elsewhere.
“There is nothing more important now. I am using every ounce of energy I can to continue to shout this from the rooftops: I want every parent and guardian out there to think hard about why they have been happy to see our communities open up,” said Thurmond. “To be able to hug loved ones, to gather again, this is because of the public health measures that were put in place and the efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible.”
Resources for vaccination in schools
Schools are a trusted messenger, therefore the state wants to partner with schools to vaccinate students and families. There are two ways to partner directly:
Hosting a Pop-Up — If a school or other site wants to host a clinic, the California Department of Public Health has a form to fill out to request support. The state vaccination team will follow up within three business days to try to match the site with necessary resources. The form is at
Becoming a Provider — If a school wants to become a provider (i.e., receive vaccine allocations directly), this is a more involved process with heightened requirements. Information on enrollment can be found at
Schools can also find a toolkit on vaccines for youth at
CDPH has also issued guidance on options for getting consent for vaccinations at
Contact Us
© 2021 Association of California School Administrators