California postpones COVID vaccine mandate for schoolchildren

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The state of California is postponing implementation of its planned COVID-19 vaccine mandate for schoolchildren until at least July 2023.

Last fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for children to attend schools in person. The mandate would take effect following the vaccine gaining full federal Food and Drug Administration approval, Newsom said. 

Initially, the mandate would apply to seventh through 12th grade students, Newsom said. Later, it would apply to kindergarten through sixth grade students. 

The FDA still has not fully approved COVID-19 vaccines for all ages within grades 7 through 12. A state vaccine requirement for schools will not take effect until after full FDA approval, and it will not be implemented any sooner than July 1, 2023, state officials said in a news release on Thursday. 

Dr. Tomas J. Aragon, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer, released a statement saying children are still encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccines.

“CDPH strongly encourages all eligible Californians, including children, to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” Aragon said in the statement. “We continue to ensure that our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is driven by the best science and data available.”

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