COVID-19

California State Senator Proposes New Law That Requires COVID Vaccination for All Schoolchildren

Written by William Hekman

Whether you live in San Diego, Los Angeles, or Fresno, citizens of California have seen a number of mandates coming from the state government, with almost all of these mandates being related to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Now, a much larger and overreaching mandate could soon become permanent. 

Today, State Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) announced that he will introduce a bill to the legislature that would require K-12 students in California to be vaccinated against COVID. The COVID vaccine would be added to the list of vaccines that schoolchildren need in order to attend school. Pan’s bill would override a mandate that was instituted last year by Governor Gavin Newsom. Newsom’s mandate has not gone into effect as the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has yet to fully approve the vaccine for those 12 and up. One major aspect in Newsom’s mandate is that parents can cite personal beliefs to opt their children out. Pan said, “We need to make sure schools are safe so that all parents are comfortable sending their children to school”. Pan has been known as a lawmaker who has supported increased vaccination laws for schools and oversight of exemptions. Before entering politics Pan was a pediatrician. 

This is the second major piece of legislation regarding vaccinations and COVID policy to come out of the California legislature this year. On Thursday, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 866 which would allow children 12 and older to get vaccinated against COVID without parental knowledge or consent. Both pieces of legislation are set to be met with intense debate and opposition. Pan’s bill will require all students from kindergarten to 12th grade to be vaccinated against COVID starting on January 1st. The bill would also allow the California Department of Public Health to mandate vaccines in the future without requiring California to offer personal belief or religious exemptions. Vaccine mandates in schools are already unpopular. San Diego Unified had their mandate struck down by a judge last month. Not wanting to go through similar legal battles and litigation, Los Angeles Unified postponed their mandate until the fall. 

This bill along with Senate Bill 866 could be a massive turning point for COVID policy in California. Opposition from local boards facing staff shortages is expected to be fierce as well as debate in the legislature. Evan Senator Pan admits that the language of the bill is “something we’re still working out.”

Photo Cred: Politico