Students wearing facial coverings attend class on first day back in person, at Concord High School in Concord, Calif., on Aug. 12, 2021. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News)

Most Oakland public school students age 12 and older will be required to be vaccinated following a vote by the school board Wednesday night, school district officials said Thursday.

The board voted 5-1, with one abstention, to enact a mandate that will go into effect no earlier than Jan. 1, Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammel said.

The Oakland Unified School District may be the first district in Northern California to enact a mandate.

“I think this is a very important and necessary step,” said Arnab Mukherjea, chair and associate professor of public health at California State University East Bay.

Besides protecting students from severe disease, hospitalization, and death, the vaccine also protects others, Mukherjea said.

“It creates a wall of human immunity for sixth-graders,” he said.

Oakland school officials will craft the vaccine mandate based on one created by the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is requiring all students who do not have an exemption to be vaccinated by Jan. 10.

Students 12 and up who participate in extra-curricular activities in Los Angeles Unified must receive their second dose by Oct. 31.

Students who are turning 12 must receive their second vaccine dose no later than eight weeks after their birthday, officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District said.

Oakland public schools will adjust the mandate created by Los Angeles Unified based on the needs in Oakland. All legally required exemptions and a personal belief exemption will be included in the mandate, Oakland school officials said.

“This isn’t new,” said Mukherjea, who is a father of two young children in public schools.

Most schools mandate vaccines for children, he said.

“This vaccine is extremely safe and effective,” he said.

Hundreds of millions of people have received the vaccine and if there was a major, adverse effect we would have known it by now, Mukherjea said.

He acknowledged some rarely occurring health problems with each of three vaccines approved for use in the U.S.

Also Thursday, state public health officials said they are considering a state vaccine mandate for school children 12 and older.

The Oakland school board told Johnson-Trammel to recommend to them no later than October about how to enforce Oakland’s mandate. Johnson-Trammel was also directed to start a vaccination campaign and create incentives for students to get vaccinated.