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California delays coronavirus vaccine mandate for schools until 2023

SACRAMEDO, California – California is sticking to its mandate for the coronavirus vaccine for students, but that will not happen until at least the summer of 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration announced on Thursday.

Last year, California was the first state to announce that it would require all students to receive the coronavirus vaccine. But that has not happened yet, as Newsom said it was waiting for US Food and Drug Administration regulators to give final approval to the school-age vaccine.

At the time, Newsom estimated that the mandate would take effect at the start of the 2022-23 school year. However, while federal regulators have authorized the use of the coronavirus vaccine for children up to 5 years of age in an emergency, it has not yet given final approval to anyone under the age of 16.

As calendar inches approach the fall, school principals were worried they would not have enough time to implement the vaccine mandate.

“Therefore, based on these two data – we do not have full FDA approval and we recognize the implementation challenges that schools and school principals will face – that we are not going to have a vaccine requirement for schools next academic year and no earlier than in July 2023 “, said in an interview the Minister of Health and Human Services of California, Dr. Mark Ghaly.

RELATED: Pfizer will look for COVID-19 booster for healthy children ages 5 to 11

The move comes at a time when coronavirus cases and hospitalizations remain low after the winter wave of the micron variant, but also as authorities struggle to persuade parents to vaccinate their children against the virus.

While nearly 75% of California’s population has been vaccinated, rates for children 17 and under are much lower. Slightly less than 34% of children aged 5-11 have received the vaccine, while just over 66.4% of children aged 12-17 have done so, according to state figures.

“In terms of keeping children in school, this was the right move,” said Christina Hildebrand, president and founder of A Voice for Choice Advocacy, a group opposed to vaccine orders. “The number of children who are not vaccinated and if they are removed from school would be a much bigger disaster.”

California and Louisiana are the only states to have announced a vaccine mandate for K-12 schools, according to the National Academy of Health Policy. The District of Columbia also has a mandate.

The Louisiana mandate includes an exception for parents, while the California mandate would allow exceptions for medical reasons and personal beliefs. A medical reason often requires proof from a doctor. However, it is easier to obtain an exception of personal beliefs, often requiring a letter from the student or parent stating his or her objections.

State Sen. Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat who is also a pediatrician, had drafted a bill in the state legislature this year that would prevent students from using the exception of personal beliefs to avoid the coronavirus vaccine. But on Thursday, Pan announced that he was holding the bill – which means it will not become law this year – although he said there should still be emphasis on boosting child vaccination rates.

“Until children ‘s access to COVID vaccination is significantly improved, I believe that a government policy to require COVID vaccination in schools is not an immediate priority, although it is an appropriate safety policy for many school districts in communities with good access to vaccines “. Pan said in a press release.

Pan did not say he withdrew the bill due to lack of support. A poll by the Institute for Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley found that 64% of registered voters support the coronavirus vaccine requirements in schools – including 55% of voters who are parents of school-age children. The poll was released in February based on a sample of 8,937 registered voters in California, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

This is the second vaccine-related bill to fail in the California Legislature this year before it was even put to a vote. Last month, Democrat Buffy Wicks withdrew a bill that would force all California businesses to require coronavirus vaccines for their employees – a decision that gave “a new and welcome chapter in this pandemic,” with the virus receding for the time being “.

As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have declined, government officials have removed most of the restrictions on the virus, no longer requiring masks in schools or other public places.

“Certainly many parents are excited that Sen. Pan is pushing this bill. It’s something less to worry about,” said Jonathan Zachreson, a parent of three high school kids who founded the Reopen California Schools advocacy group. “The fact is that children aged 5-11 have had access to vaccines for a long time and their low vaccination rates, I think, are evident from how parents feel about the vaccine.”

Other vaccine-related bills remain in force in the California Legislature, including a bill that would allow students 12 years of age and older to get the coronavirus vaccine without their parents’ permission. California currently requires parental permission for vaccines, unless specifically for the prevention of a sexually transmitted disease.

Copyright © 2022 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.



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