While California was the first state to announce that all school-aged kids would require the Covid-19 vaccine, state health officials are now taking a big step back - delaying a statewide mandate until at least July 2023, according to a Thursday announcement by the Department of Health.
The delay was explained as a way to "ensure sufficient time for successful implementation of new vaccine requirements," and will apply to students in grades 7 through 12, according to KTLA.
"To ensure sufficient time for successful implementation of new vaccine requirements, California will not initiate the regulatory process for a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the 2022-2023 school year," said the department. "As such, any vaccine requirements would not take effect until after full FDA approval and no sooner than July 1, 2023.
The Health Department still encourages "all eligible Californians, including children, to be vaccinated against COVID-19," according to department Director Tomás J. Aragón - but not enough to wade through the legal quagmire of forcing students to get a jab designed for a completely different strain of a virus that has minimal effects on most children.
Approximately 75% of the state has received the vaccine, including 34% of children between the ages of 5-11, and 66.4% of children ages 12-17, according to state data.