Catholic schools in the Diocese of San Diego will accept “any” personal belief exemption for the coronavirus vaccine once California’s mandate for schoolchildren goes into effect.
“In implementing any legal mandate for Covid vaccinations that includes a personal belief exemption, the Catholic schools of the Diocese of San Diego will accept any parents request for exemption as valid,” said a Nov. 1 letter to school pastors and principals from the diocese’s Offices for Schools and Communications & Public Affairs.
“The consensus among legislative analysts with whom we have spoken is that it is unlikely that the legislature will give legislative approval for a mandate without a personal belief exemption,” they said.
On Oct. 1, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that all children enrolled in public, charter, or private schools aged 12 and older would need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, albeit with personal belief exemptions. This mandate gos into effect January 2022.
In California, a 2019 law prohibits religious exemptions and personal belief exemptions for standard childhood vaccinations, including measles, rubella, polio, and inoculations against seven other diseases. Only medical exemptions are allowed for these cases. Prior to this policy, parts of the state had childhood vaccination rates comparable to developing countries.
While religious and personal belief exemptions are not allowed for fully-approved childhood vaccines, California law requires that any additional vaccine that is added to the list of mandatory vaccinations without legislative approval must allow for personal belief exemptions. Newsom did not go through the California legislature when mandating the coronavirus vaccine for students.
Presently, the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech is available for children aged 5 and up thanks to an emergency use authorization.
The mandate has proven divisive even ahead of its implementation, said the diocese.
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