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California delays COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students

The requirement will now go into effect by July 2023, pending FDA approval.

California will not require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for at least one more school year, health officials announced Thursday.

The requirement would take effect no earlier than July 1, 2023, pending full Food and Drug Administration approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for children under 16.

State officials initially said the mandate could be implemented through July 2022, pending full FDA approval.

The state is delaying implementation of the mandate for the 2022-2023 school year “to ensure sufficient time for successful implementation of new vaccine requirements,” the state health department said. State.

“[The California Department of Public Health] strongly encourages all eligible Californians, including children, to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” state public health officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón said in a statement. “We continue to ensure that our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is driven by the best science and data available.”

California became the first state in the nation to move forward with mandating COVID-19 vaccines for school children in October, when Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state would require the vaccine for all school children aged 12. to 17 once the FDA grants full approval. The mandate allows exemptions for medical reasons, personal convictions and religious beliefs.

Since then, another state — Louisiana — has announced a vaccination mandate for school children, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy. The mandate, which is expected to take effect for the 2022-2023 school year, would only apply to those who are eligible for a fully approved vaccine and includes an opt-out option for parents.

Schools and universities across the country have also instituted vaccine requirements, including the Los Angeles Public School District. Enforcement of its mandate requiring students 12 and older to be fully vaccinated was postponed from January to the fall to allow more time for compliance.

The FDA has granted full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for ages 16 and older, and Moderna’s vaccine for ages 18 and older.

Pfizer has asked to expand its approval to include 12 to 15 year olds.

When the requirement was announced in October, 63.5% of California residents between the ages of 12 and 17 had received at least one dose.

“From 12 to 17, we’re not where we need to be. And so hopefully that will encourage people to get vaccinated,” Newsom said at the time.

Currently, 74.2% of residents aged 12 to 17 have received at least one dose.

ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett contributed to this report.

ABC News

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