Aug 26, 2022 - News

D.C. sets new vaccine deadline for students

Dr. Lewis Ferebee, Chancellor of DC Public Schools, at a June event urging families to vaccinate their children before the upcoming school year. (Photo: Craig Hudson for The Washington Post via Getty Images

D.C. is pushing back the date by which public school students must be up-to-date on vaccinations, according to a letter sent to school leaders Friday.

The change comes just two days ahead of the first day of school as students across the nation fall behind on their immunizations.

Why it matters: More than a quarter of D.C.'s public school students are not compliant with the vaccine requirement to return to school, according to recent data.

  • In addition to immunization for diseases like polio, mumps and measles, students ages 12 and up must also be vaccinated for COVID-19.

What’s happening: The new deadline gives families with children in kindergarten through fifth grade until Oct. 11 to be vaccinated before they will not be allowed to come to school.

  • Middle and high school students will have until Nov. 4 after an initial non-compliance notice on Oct. 3.

For students required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the first official notices of non-compliance will begin Nov. 21, officials say.

  • Non-compliant students will not be allowed in school starting Jan. 3, 2023.
  • D.C. Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn told reporters Friday that the staggered approach to COVID-19 vaccination compliance is, in part, because the vaccine for 12-15 year-olds was only granted full FDA approval in July.

What they’re saying: City officials told reporters Friday that enrollment is still settling at public schools and moving the vaccination deadline puts enforcement closer to the official count day of enrollment on Oct. 5.

By the numbers: DC Health data from mid-August showed that 29% of students across D.C.’s public schools, including charter schools, were out of compliance.

  • Officials say more updated numbers will be available in the coming weeks.

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