Today, October 1, 2021, Governor Newsom announced plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend schools in-person when the vaccine receives full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for middle and high school grades. The new requirement will take effect starting the term (January 1, 2022, or July 1, 2022, whichever comes first) following FDA approval of a vaccine for students, and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will consider relevant recommendations from the federal government prior to implementing the requirement.

The directive requires CDPH to add the COVID-19 vaccine, pursuant to Health and Safety Code sections 120325-120380, and applies the requirement to all “pupil[s] of any private or public elementary or secondary school[s].” The mandate is to be implemented in a phased-in approach by grade span, as a condition of in-person attendance.

Since the requirement is established through regulations, not legislation, there is a medical and personal belief exemption from this new vaccine mandate for families to pursue, per Health and Safety Code section 120338.

The Administration expects the requirement to apply to grades 7-12 starting on July 1, 2022. For students who are under the age of full approval, but within the grade span, they will be required to be vaccinated once they reach the age of full approval, consistent with existing vaccine procedures.