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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-56
August 12, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Steps Up Outreach Efforts on Vaccine Urgency With Virtual Town Hall

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted a lineup yesterday of public health experts, legendary guests, and youth leaders for a conversation on how important vaccines are for the safe reopening of schools. The Virtual Vaccine Town Hall, “Supporting Safe Back-to-School: Promoting Vaccinations for Those 12 and Over,” took place Wednesday, August 11, 2021, at 6 p.m. It can be viewed now on the California Department of Education (CDE) Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab..

The Vaccine Town Hall reached a half million homes and engaged more than 50,000 people and is an important step in Thurmond’s ongoing message about how getting every person who is eligible vaccinated will be critical for schools and communities. In addition, a $100 gift card drawing was held for attendees who pledged to get the vaccine.

“Summer is coming to an end, and schools across California are already beginning to open for the 2021–21 school year. I have been visiting these campuses; there is nothing that gives me more pleasure than seeing the excitement of back-to-school,” Thurmond said. “However, while there is elation on the part of families, students, and our schools to get back to campus, we also know there remains very real concern about the Delta variant and its transmission rate. On top of this, every day there seems to be more misinformation about vaccines, mask wearing, and COVID testing. At this event, we focused on the facts and unpacked what is on the minds of our communities in the context of returning to school and, most importantly, conveyed to every person the importance and the safety of COVID-19 vaccines to our personal health, to our schools, and to our community and nation.”

The town hall event featured Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California’s first Surgeon General and an award-winning Physician, Researcher, and Advocate dedicated to childhood trauma; Dr. Naomi Bardach External link opens in new window or tab., State Lead of the Safe Schools for All Team and Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Policy at the University of California, San Francisco; Dolores Huerta External link opens in new window or tab., Civil Rights Leader and California Education Ambassador; Dr. Karen Korematsu External link opens in new window or tab., Educator, Activist, and California Education Ambassador; 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 guest speakers joined Thurmond and provided current data and public health information as well as shared personal battles to combat COVID-19 misinformation and anti-vaccine sentiments, especially within some of the hardest-hit communities of the state. The virtual two-way town hall format allowed viewers of all ages to tune in and have their questions answered from these California experts and icons.

The Virtual Vaccine Town Hall includes Spanish language and American Sign Language interpretation service on the CDE Facebook page External link opens in new window or tab.. To find a vaccine clinic near you, visit the My Turn - California COVID-19 website External link opens in new window or tab..

To continue to spread his message to schools and communities to join the effort to help get as many eligible children and adults vaccinated as possible among a backdrop of surging COVID-19 cases among children ages 0–17, Thurmond will hold a virtual media briefing tomorrow on the topic of vaccine urgency.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, May 30, 2023
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