CDPH Comments that COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for K-12 students will NOT go into Effect in July 2023, but is it Really Over?
History of Adding the COVID-19 Vaccine to the CA K-12 School Vaccine Requirements:
October 1, 2021: Governor Gavin Newsom announced California would be the first state in the nation to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for K-12 students to attend school in-person. ( [link removed] [[link removed]] )
January 24, 2022: Senator Pan introduced SB 871, which would have required all children attending public or private daycare or K-12 school to be vaccinated for COVID-19, and would have removed the personal belief exemption for future CDPH implemented vaccines. ( [link removed] [[link removed]] )
April 14, 2022: Senator Richard Pan put SB 871 on hold ( [link removed] [[link removed]] ), because “COVID vaccination rates, particularly among children, are currently insufficient, and the state needs to focus its effort on increasing access to COVID vaccinations for children through physicians and other health providers who care for children and on education efforts to give families accurate information about the COVID vaccine.”
April 15, 2022: The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) delayed any requirement of the COVID-19 vaccine for school children until at least the 2023-2024 school year. ( [link removed] [[link removed]] ). Their statement stated, "The State of California announced last October that full approval by the FDA was a precondition to initiating the rulemaking process to add the COVID-19 vaccine to other vaccinations required for in-person school attendance—such as measles, mumps, and rubella—pursuant to California’s Health and Safety Code. To ensure sufficient time for successful implementation of new vaccine requirements, California will not initiate the regulatory process for a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the 2022-2023 school year and as such, any vaccine requirements would not take effect until after full FDA approval and no sooner than July 1, 2023."
January 26, 2023 and February, 1 2023: The Daily News and EdSource released news articles with quotes from CDPH stating, “As such, CDPH is not currently exploring emergency rulemaking to add COVID-19 vaccinations to the list of required school vaccinations,” the agency stated. “Any changes to required K-12 immunizations are properly addressed through the legislative process.” ( [link removed] [[link removed]] and [link removed] [[link removed]] )
Note: There are a handful of schools that continue to require the COVID-19 vaccine which is illegal, but they continue to skirt the issue and the law, especially after the positive ruling against San Diego Unified School District by Let Them Breathe. It will require lawsuits against these schools, but most parents don’t want their children attending such schools anyway so it has been hard to find plaintiffs for these cases.
What Does this Mean for Children in CA?
While A Voice for Choice Advocacy is hopeful that this is the end of the road for the COVID-19 vaccine being added to the CA school vaccine requirements, there are a number of red flags still out there, specifically related to CDPH’s statement that “any changes to required K-12 immunizations are properly addressed through the legislative process.”
In December and January, a few organizations in California put out an action alert to contact Governor Newsom requesting that he not implement the COVID-19 K-12 school requirement, and that he should use the legislative process. A Voice for Choice Advocacy did not support this action because it implied the legislature should take on a bill similar to SB 871 this year to implement it. If that were to happen then the Personal Belief Exemption, which would have been required if CDPH had implemented such a requirement, would not be an option. It is not clear how many people followed this action, but both Governor Newsom and legislators received some of these requests.
Only about 300, of the approximately 1200 bills that will be introduced this session, have been introduced thus far. While AVFCA has not heard any rumors of a COVID-19 vaccine bill being introduced, there is another month before that can be confirmed.
I was in Sacramento, in the Capitol, the past three days, and Senator Pan was in the building meeting with people on at least one of those days, so while he cannot introduce a bill himself, he is definitely still there influencing legislation. (To clarify: While Senator Pan cannot lobby himself for a year after being a Senator, he can attend meetings and share his opinions if he is with a contract lobbyist.)
Next Steps: News is just news and holds no legal weight, so AVFCA has requested an official statement from CDPH confirming that they will not be moving forward with any COVID-19 vaccine requirements for K-12 school children. Our organization will also be closely monitoring bills in the legislature as they are authored and put across the desk, and AVFCA will keep our ear to the ground in the Capitol to get any advance information on any proposed bills.
So in that light, give a sigh of relief, but don’t put your guard down until there is confirmation that there are no bills this year that would require the COVID-19 vaccine.
As we have been for the past 8 years, A Voice for Choice Advocacy will continue with lobbying, grassroots efforts and legal avenues to counter these measures. But, we need YOU to help us on a local level. We need you to go to Board of Supervisor and School Board meetings, as well as meet with your CA Senator and Assembly Member. Relationships with these elected officials need to be fostered on a local level, so when the bills do come forward in Sacramento, they are aware of their constituents opinions. Be sure to join Stand Up California ( [link removed] [[link removed]] ) to find out how to effectively communicate with your local elected officials.
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