Feb 5, 2023 - Politics & Policy

California no longer pursuing K-12 COVID vaccine mandate

Illustration of a stack of wooden toy blocks showing a syringe, a COVID cell and a cotton swab.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

California children will no longer need the COVID-19 vaccine to attend school, state officials announced Friday.

The big picture: Almost all of California's COVID-19 restrictions have ended, and the state's emergency declaration will end on Feb. 28.

Catch up quick: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced the mandate in 2021, saying it would apply to 6.7 million public and private schoolchildren.

  • The mandate — the country's first K-12 vaccine mandate — was delayed until 2023 while waiting for regulatory approval.

Of note: California was also the first state to formally move toward an "endemic" approach to the coronavirus.

What they're saying: A California Department of Public Health spokesperson told Axios that the state's SMARTER Plan continues to provide an adequate framework for the COVID pandemic, which lead to the decision to end the emergency declaration.

  • "CDPH is not currently exploring emergency rulemaking to add COVID-19 vaccinations to the list of required school vaccinations."
  • The department still strongly recommends the immunization of students and staff: "COVID-19 immunization is an important tool for keeping our kids healthy and schools open."
  • Mobile vaccination services will remain available for K-12 schools, CDPH said.
  • The governor's office did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper:

Go deeper