Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced Thursday the Coronavirus mandate placed on school children will not go into effect until at least the summer of 2023, pending approval from federal regulators. 

The mandate will not take place until the U.S. The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants final approval for school-aged children. The California Department of Health released a timeline that pushes the mandate back to at least July 1, 2023, since the vaccine has not received final approval for anyone younger than 16. 

The FDA has granted emergency approval to vaccinate individuals as young as 5 years old. It has been available since last year.

California became the first in the United States to mandate the vaccines in schools last October once they received full approval from regulators. This adds to other vaccines required for in-school attendance, such as measles, mumps, and rubella under the state’s Health and Safety Code. 

The state has maintained vaccine supply, operational readiness, and access to education and resources about COVID-19 and vaccines with focused engagement to ensure younger Californians are taking opportunities to get vaccinated under Governor Newsom’s SMARTER Plan

“CDPH strongly encourages all eligible Californians, including children, to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” said California Department of Public Health Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón. “We continue to ensure that our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is driven by the best science and data available. Under the Governor’s SMARTER plan, California is making informed decisions on how to further protect students and staff, to keep children safely in classrooms.”

The vaccine mandate delay comes as the most popular state has seen “some slow but noticeable increase in our case rates” in the last 10 days, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency

The CDPH said that upon full approval from the FDA, it will consider the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians before implementing a school vaccine requirement.

The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has been the only one approved for emergency use of children between the ages of 5 and 17. Pfizer offers smaller doses for children 12 and older, and the company is testing smaller doses for children under five but had to add a third shot to its study.

Pfizer expects to release its results in April. 

Last month, Moderna announced it would ask regulators to authorize two small dose shots for kids under six. If approved, the youngest age group may be vaccinated by the summer. 

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