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A California lawmaker on Thursday withdrew from consideration a bill that would’ve required children in grades K-12 to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to attend California schools—the second piece of vaccine-related California legislation to be pulled in recent weeks as coronavirus case rates continue to decline.

Key Facts

State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) said he retracted the bill before it was put to a vote because children still have insufficient access to Covid-19 vaccines, stating in a release that a statewide vaccine requirement for the age group “is not the immediate priority” until access improves.

About 66% of children ages 12-17 are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in California, and about 34% of kids ages 5-11 have received the jab, though youth vaccination rates vary widely from county to county—62.1% of 5-11-year-olds in San Mateo County are fully vaccinated, compared to just 23.1% in Fresno County.

California will still require children in grades 7-12 to be vaccinated against Covid-19 under a mandate Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced in October, but this rule will not take effect until the Food and Drug Administration fully approves Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 12 and up (the vaccine only has emergency use authorization for children ages 5-15).

Pan’s proposed mandate—first introduced in January as Senate Bill 871—only allowed students to opt out of vaccination with a medical exemption, whereas Newsom’s mandate will let parents exempt their children due to “personal beliefs.”

Key Background

Last month, lawmakers also retracted a bill that would have required all public- and private-sector California workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to work in the state (unless they have a medical or religious exemption) before it was put to a vote, less than two months after it was first proposed. Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), author of the bill, pointed to reduced Covid-19 case rates as a reason for the decision, but said the bill might still be necessary later on “should condition warrant,” meaning if case rates rise once more.

What To Watch For

Multiple Covid-19-related bills proposed by a group of California lawmakers who formed a vaccine working group are still under consideration. Senate Bill 866, proposed by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would allow California minors ages 12 and up to receive vaccines—Covid-19 or otherwise—without authorization from their parent or guardian. Also, Assembly Bill 1797, proposed by Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), would give California school officials more access to students’ immunization records.

Big Number

1.8%. That’s California’s seven-day average Covid-19 test positivity rate for the week ending April 12. Positivity rates in the state have hovered around 2% since March—a massive drop from the state’s record-high 22.3% in January at the peak of the omicron-fueled outbreak.

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus

Source: Forbes

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