State Halts COVID Vaccine Mandate For Schoolchildren

The first state to announce a vaccine mandate for schoolchildren is now delaying the ruling for different reasons.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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vaccine mandate

It’s been a little over a year since the COVID vaccine first was introduced, and the dispute over its use and efficacy continues. A political divide has found itself in the debate, but with the vaccine being so new, most states are still wary to make any laws requiring statewide vaccine mandates. One state that is, however, seems to be having some issues with moving the mandate forward, as California recently announced a plan to halt their major vaccine mandate for all schoolchildren in the Golden State.

COVID cases and hospitalization numbers have declined all around the nation since the beginning of 2022. Data shows that 66% of Americans are now vaccinated against coronavirus, but California looks to sharply increase that by making it mandatory that all school-aged children receive the jab with a new vaccine mandate. The new ruling was expected to go into effect next fall at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, but Newsome and California legislators now realize how unrealistic that goal is. 

According to a new report from the Associated Press, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom announced the pause on the school vaccine mandate. There were two main reasons for the delay. One reason was that the state realizes the strain it would place on school administrators over the summer to roll out the plan in such little amount of time. The second reason was that the Food and Drug Administration has still not fully approved the COVID vaccine for use on children under 16. 

vaccine mandate

When California became the first state to announce it would require schoolchildren to receive the vaccine, Newsom said he would not impose the vaccine mandate until after the FDA fully approved the vaccine for school-aged children. As it stands, anyone 5 and older can get the shot after the FDA approved it for “emergency use.” But because of due diligence, the agency is still working on getting it fully approved. 

California is faring well on the push to get citizens vaccinated. Even without a statewide vaccine mandate, nearly three-quarters of all of California’s population is now vaccinated. However, rates for children 17 and younger are much lower. Only 34% of children between the ages of 5-11 have received the shot, and a little over 66% of those aged 12-17 have gotten it.

vaccine mandate

And while much of the public opinion regarding not only the vaccine, but vaccine mandates is torn, a recent poll by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California found that the majority of registered voters in California supported school vaccine requirements. Similarly, there is still hope for those against the mandate. Under the ruling, California’s mandate will allow exemptions for medical reasons and personal beliefs. Given the ambiguity of the term “personal beliefs,” it seems nearly any parent would be able to opt their child out.

Because of the pause to the school vaccine mandates in California, students will not be required to be vaccinated before the start of this coming fall’s school year. The goal is now to roll out the policy for the 2023-24 school year. California isn’t the only state to require such mandates, as Louisiana also has imposed student vaccine requirements, along with the District of Columbia.