California bill would require all schoolchildren to be vaccinated against COVID-19
A California bill proposed on Monday would require that all students be immunized against COVID-19, according to the Los Angles Times.
The bill introduced would add COVID-19 vaccination to the list of mandatory vaccinations that students must have in order to attend grades K-12 in the Golden State, unless granted a rare medical exemption, reports the Times.
The California Health Department would also be permitted from then on out to mandate vaccines for schools without requiring personal belief exemptions, which would give room for the health department to mandate tweaked COVID-19 vaccines or boosters down the road without going through the state government, the Times reports.
“We need to make sure schools are safe so that all parents are comfortable sending their children to school and we want to keep schools open,” said state Sen. Richard Pan (D), a pediatrician who has pioneered some of the California vaccine bills, according to the Times.
This legislation is the second vaccine requirement bill introduced by California Democrats this year who seek to increase vaccination rates in the state and mitigate vaccine misinformation, reports the Times.
California has a bill in place already to require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend school, but it is not set to go into effect until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants full approval to its vaccine for children ages 12 and up. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine currently holds full FDA approval, but only for ages 16 and older, reports the Times. For children ages 5-15, the vaccine has emergency use authorization, which is not as strong as full FDA approval.
This mandate, proposed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), would be imposed on students grade seven to 12 and differs from the newly proposed bill in that it leaves room for religious exemption or exemption for “personal beliefs.” The current bill proposed does not have this exemption; it only has exemption for medical reasons, as is the case for all other vaccine requirements for in-person school attendance in the state of California, reports the Times.
It is expected that both of these bills will be met with opposition by those who are against vaccine mandates and government intervention in education.