After implementing first-in-the-nation school masking and staff vaccination measures, California has become the first state to announce plans to require student vaccinations – adding the COVID-19 vaccine to list of vaccinations required for school, such as the vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella.
Students will be required to be vaccinated for in person learning starting the term following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their grade span (7-12 and K-6).
Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend school in-person when the vaccine receives full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for middle and high school grades, making California the first state in the nation to announce such a measure. Following the other first-in-the-nation school masking and staff vaccination measures, Governor Newsom announced the COVID-19 vaccine will be required for in-person school attendance.
“The state already requires that students are vaccinated against viruses that cause measles, mumps, and rubella – there’s no reason why we wouldn’t do the same for COVID-19,” said Governor Newsom, adding the move is critical in helping keep students and staff safe and in the classroom. “Vaccines work. It’s why California leads the country in preventing school closures and has the lowest case rates. We encourage other states to follow our lead to keep our kids safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
California continues to maintain the lowest case rate in the entire country and is one of only two states to have advanced out of the CDC’s ‘high’ COVID transmission category.
The vast majority of school districts have reported that over 95 percent of students have returned to in-person instruction this school year. California is leading national trends in preventing school closures and keeping kids in classrooms, accounting for only 14 out of over 2,000 school closures nationwide, or roughly 0.7 percent – despite the fact that California educates an estimated 12 percent of the nation’s public school students.
In order to further protect students and staff and continue supporting a safe return to in-person instruction for all students, the Governor directed the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to follow the procedures established by the Legislature to add the COVID-19 vaccine to other vaccinations required for in-person school attendance—such as measles, mumps, and rubella—pursuant to the Health and Safety Code. COVID-19 vaccine requirements will be phased-in by grade span, which will also promote smoother implementation.
Upon full FDA approval of age groups within a grade span, CDPH will consider the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians prior to implementing a requirement. Following existing statute, full approval of ages 12+ corresponds to grades 7-12, and full approval of ages 5-11 corresponds to grades K-6. Students who are under the age of full approval, but within the grade span, will be required to be vaccinated once they reach the age of full approval (with a reasonable period of time to receive both doses), consistent with existing procedures for other vaccines.
The requirement will take effect at the start of the term following full approval of that grade span, to be defined as Jan. 1 or July 1, whichever comes first. Based on current information, the requirement is expected to apply to grades 7-12 starting on July 1, 2022.