California K-12 student and staff COVID Vaccine Mandate

Governor Gavin Newsom announced California will be the first state in the nation to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for K-12 students and staff to attend school in-person

A Voice for Choice Advocacy has warned this was inevitable, given Governor Newsom was not recalled.  For K-12 staff, religious and medical exemption must be allowed per Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  For K-12 students a personal belief exemption and a medical exemption must be allowed if the California Public Health Department creates the requirement, per current CA statute.  While the COVID-19 vaccine will only be required under this order, when the vaccine is fully FDA approved for each grade span, Governor Newsom encouraged individual school districts to accelerate this.

It was made very clear in the press conference that legislators will work to remove the personal belief exemption in 2022.  This Executive Order is a calculated set up for that legislation.  It will allow legislators, such as Senators Pan and Wiener and Assembly Members Wicks and Weber, to quantify the number of personal belief exemptions statewide and thereby validate the need to remove the personal belief exemption.  Remember in 2015, when the legislature removed the personal belief exemption for all the other school required childhood vaccines, the personal belief exemption rate was 2.7% of all school children.  So for the COVID-19 vaccine anything below a 97.5% vaccination rate will justify the legislature removing the personal belief exemption.

While A Voice for Choice Advocacy’s anticipation of such a requirement, has meant we have been strategically planning with our two lobbyists in Sacramento to counter such legislation, if history has a bearing, it will be extremely difficult to do so.  Our expectation is that by January 2023 all children in California attending K-12 school in-person will have to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (including boosters), with only a medical exemptions available.  As is the case with other required childhood vaccines, medical exemptions will be required to be entered into the CAIR-ME system and will only be allowed for children who have contraindications or precautions to the vaccine (  Existing vaccine medical exemptions will be unlikely to be grandfathered.  AKA it will be impossible to get a medical exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Children with special needs, on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), are expected to be able to continue attending in person under the Federal Disabilities Act.  If your child is not on an IEP, your options will be to vaccinate, homeschool/independent study or move out of state.  As I have said many times, if you don’t want to be forced to get the COVID-19 vaccine you have to have a Plan B.  On the school K-12 COVID-19 vaccination front, having to implement your Plan B for your children may come as soon as July 2023.

K-12 Student COVID-19 Vaccine Executive Order Details:

  • The COVID-19 vaccine will be added to other vaccinations required for in-person school attendance.  Those in independent study or homeschool will be exempt.
  • Students will be required to be vaccinated for in person learning starting the term (January 1st or July 1st) following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their grade span (grades K-6 and 7-12).
  • Students who are under the age of full approval, but within the grade span, will be required to be vaccinated once they reach the age of full approval (with a reasonable period of time to receive both doses).
  • Requirements established by regulation, not legislation, must be subject to exemptions “for both medical reasons and personal beliefs.”

K-12 Staff COVID-19 Vaccine Executive Order Details:

  • All staff will be required to be vaccinated no later than when the requirement takes effect for students.  The current verify-or-test requirement for staff will be converted to a vaccine mandate no later than when the first phase of the student requirement becomes effective.

The full Executive Order can be read here:

As we have been for the past 6 years, A Voice for Choice Advocacy will continue with lobbying, grassroots efforts and legal avenues to counter these measures.  But, we need YOU to help us on a local level. We need you to go to Board of Supervisor and School Board meetings, as well as meet with your CA Senator and Assembly Member.  Relationships with these elected officials need to be fostered on a local level, so when the bill to codify this and remove the personal believe exemption is are introduced in Sacramento, they are aware of their constituents opinions.  A Voice for Choice Advocacy will be sending emails in the coming weeks on how to do this professionally and effectively.

More to come SOON!

Together we can make change happen!