A message about COVID-19 vaccines for the 2022-23 school year
The decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom not to require COVID-19 vaccinations for the 2022-23 school year acknowledges the challenges schools would face in complying with a mandate for a vaccine that continues to be given under an emergency-use authorization.
On Thursday evening, the California Department of Public Health reaffirmed that any COVID vaccine requirement for K-12 school settings would come only after the FDA fully authorizes a vaccine for children. Federal officials still have not given a timeline for when such approval could come, meaning that as the end of the 2021-22 school year draws closer, the window schools and districts have to prepare closes further. As a result, CDPH indicated the earliest a COVID-19 vaccine would be mandated for schools would be July 1, 2023.
Separately on Thursday, state Sen. Richard Pan withdrew a bill that would have placed the COVID-19 vaccine among the other immunizations currently required to attend public schools.
These decisions are the right thing to do for our school communities, which in Sonoma County have struggled with distance learning and evolving pandemic-related safety measures, as well as lost days of instruction due to numerous natural disasters over the past five school years.
Vaccines remain one of the most effective tools to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, and to limit the severity of cases that develop. But with more than half of our youngest students not fully vaccinated and with some families hesitant to embrace COVID immunizations, the effort to ensure our students and school families are fully protected should be considered carefully, and not with haste.
As a reminder, a current list of planned school vaccine clinics can be found at scoe.org/vaccines. People wishing to schedule a free immunization also can visit myturn.ca.gov or call 833-422-4255 to make a vaccine or booster appointment. For more information from Sonoma County's health department on COVID-19 vaccines, visit socoemergency.org/vaccine.
Steven D. Herrington, Ph.D.
Sonoma County superintendent of schools