Proposed bill aims to remove important exemption from vaccine mandate
State Senator Richard Pan introduced the ‘Keep Schools Open and Safe’ Act on Monday, which would nix exemptions from Covid vaccination based on personal beliefs.
Pan, a pediatrician who represents an area in Sacramento, said the pandemic has caused “disruption, anxiety, and trauma” for families in the state, and this legislation would bring “confidence and certainty” to them.
“What we’re saying is that if you choose not to vaccinate your child, there’s a consequence,” the senator told the San Francisco Chronicle, as he defended the bill.
The proposal from Pan would also require all students from kindergarten through 12th grade to receive Covid-19 vaccinations beginning January 23, 2023 if they want to have in-person classes. The only way for unvaccinated students to still go to school at that point would be to obtain a medical exemption.
A vaccine mandate for school children was put in place by Governor Gavin Newsom. The mandate, in its current form, envisions both medical and personal belief exemptions, and is set to take effect later this year.
Pan acknowledged that his proposal goes further than Newsom’s, insisting that his law, if passed, would expand on the governor's order.
“Gov. Newsom got out front, he issued his executive order, but a state law would make it much more certain and less likely to be challenged in court,” he said.
The question over a potential state law requiring vaccines for minors is one of multiple legal battles in California related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Another member of the California State Senate previously introduced a bill that would allow minors over the age of 12 to receive vaccination without the consent of their parents.
Weiner claimed when introducing his proposal that children in the state are being blocked by their parents from being vaccinated.
“We have almost a million 12- to 17-year-olds who are not vaccinated, and many want to be but their parents won’t let them or aren’t prioritizing getting them the vaccine,” he said.