A statewide mandate for all school students aged 12 and over to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend classes will be delayed until at least July 2023, state health officials announced Thursday.
When Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the policy in October, he said it would not take effect until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full authorization to the vaccine for use on children aged 12 and over. So far, however, the shots are being offered to that age group only on an emergency-use basis.
“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,” according to a statement issued Thursday by the California Department of Public Health.
State Public Health Director Dr. Tomás Aragón said that despite the delay, he still “strongly encourages” all eligible residents — including children — to get vaccinations shots, which are available for everyone aged 5 and older.
“We continue to ensure that our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is driven by the best science and data available,” Aragón said. “Under the Governor’s SMARTER plan, California is making informed decisions on how to further protect students and staff, to keep children safely in classrooms.”