U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin on Friday said he opposes mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for school children as California moves to put a similar requirement in place.

Zeldin is one of several Republicans vying for the GOP nomination for governor of New York. 

“Considering the science and data, vaccines widely available for educators and other staff, treatment and testing options continuing to get even better, and other mitigation measures still in effect, New York state should absolutely not require the COVID vaccine for New York's schoolchildren," he said. "In the words of President Biden in December 2020, ‘no, I don’t think it should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand it be mandatory.’"

Children under the age of 12 are yet to qualify for the vaccine, but approval could be granted in the coming weeks. Gov. Kathy Hochul's administration has sought to encourage vaccinations for school kids in New York through pop-up sites in areas that have low rates of vaccinations. 

Students in New York are already required to have multiple vaccinations at various ages before attending schools.