Feb. 4, 2023 – California will no longer require schoolchildren to be vaccinated in order to attend in-person classes.
Public health officials said the move aligns school policies with the forthcoming end of the federal public health emergency in May, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In October 2021, California became the first state to require vaccines for schoolchildren, although the policy was later relaxed. Across the country, school pandemic policies ignited protests as communities grappled with decisions on remote learning, masks and vaccines.
California parents are more likely to get their children vaccinated for COVID compared to other Americans. In California, 37.6% of children 5 to 11 have received the primary series, and 67.2% of 12- to 17-year-olds have gotten the shots, state-level data show.
That’s compared to national averages of 32.6% of 5- to 11-year-olds and 61.6% of 12- to 17-year-olds, according to the CDC.
California Department of Public Health officials still encourage COVID vaccines and organize vaccine clinics to help make them easily accessible.
“COVID-19 immunization is an important tool for keeping our kids healthy and schools open,” the state health department said in a statement.
“Health officials strongly recommend immunization of students and staff against COVID-19 to prevent hospitalization and other serious complications, including death. Widespread vaccination has contributed to keeping California children in school to learn and to strengthen social connections.”
Some school districts across the U.S. have enacted scaled-back policies that required either vaccines or regular testing for student athletes or to attend proms.
In New York City, visitors to schools are still required to show proof of vaccination to enter buildings, but that policy is currently being re-evaluated. The District of Columbia plans to require COVID vaccines for schoolchildren in the fall, The Associated Press reported.