Education / Schools

San Benito residents join statewide protest against requiring COVID-19 vaccine for students

Protesters say it’s parents’ right to decide if vaccination is appropriate.

On a day where thousands of Californians participated in protests statewide, about 70 people gathered outside the San Benito County Office of Education in Hollister to protest vaccine mandates imposed on students. 

John Smith, a father of a seven-year-old and a 16-month-old, said he was against forcing people to get vaccinated. 

“We’re losing our country little by little due to crazy leftist people who think that they can do and say to us whatever they want to do and we’re not going to stand for it,” Smith said. 

Joining parents in the Oct. 18 protest that included marching through parts of San Benito and Fourth streets were kids of all ages, and grandparents including Debbie McNulty who said she was rallying for her 11-year-old granddaughter.

“No vaccine, no masks,” McNulty said. “Free the kids in school. They have to sit in school all day long with their masks on yet we can go into a restaurant to eat and not wear a mask. Maybe we should do restaurant tables in the classroom.”

Children participated in the Oct. 18 protest against COVID-19 mandates for students. Photo by Noe Magaña.
Children participated in the Oct. 18 protest against COVID-19 mandates for students. Photo by Noe Magaña.

Co-organizer Alma Phillips said she was happy about the turnout.

“Seeing all these parents coming together and standing for our children gives me a lot of hope,” Phillips said. “We can do this. We are not asking for something that is inappropriate. We are asking for the right to choose what is best for our children.”

Phillips said the group was not anti-vaccination because many of their children had been vaccinated for other viruses. 

Earlier this month Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California would require students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 following FDA approval. The state plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of 10 required vaccinations for students attending school in-person to protect against such viruses as measles, mumps and chickenpox. 

The requirement, which needs to be passed by legislators, would take effect the semester following FDA approval.

“We’re just not comfortable vaccinating our kids with this particular vaccine,” Phillips said. “We have our reasons.”


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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.