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California won't require COVID vaccine to attend schools

FILE - Johnny Thai, 11, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a pediatric vaccine clinic for children ages 5 to 11 set up at Willard Intermediate School in Santa Ana, Calif., Nov. 9, 2021. On Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, the California Department of Public Health said it was no longer exploring emergency rules to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required school vaccinations. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong,File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California won't make children get the coronavirus vaccine to attend schools, state public health officials said Friday, reversing a state policy first announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021.

The nation's most populous state plans to formally end its coronavirus emergency order on Feb. 28, ending some of Newsom's authority to quickly alter or change laws.

As the state prepares to end that order, it has also backed away from plans to issue emergency regulations adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required school vaccinations, the California Department of Public Health said in a statement. Any effort to do so would need to go through the Legislature, the statement said.

The department “is not currently exploring emergency rulemaking to add COVID-19 vaccinations to the list of required school vaccinations, but we continue to strongly recommend COVID-19 immunization for students and staff to keep everyone safer in the classroom," the statement said.

Newsom in Oct. 2021 said California would require coronavirus vaccines for school kids with some exceptions, making him the first governor to announce such a plan. Then, last year, state officials said the requirement would be delayed until at least summer 2023 while the state waited for the Food and Drug Administration to give the vaccines final approval.

Adam Beam, The Associated Press

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