The DC Council voted on Tuesday to require DC students to get the Covid-19 vaccine once their age group receives full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Once Mayor Muriel Bowser signs the law, which passed with only one vote against, the District will join California, which announced its vaccine requirement for schoolchildren in October.
So far, only those who are 16 years and older have full FDA approval to receive the vaccine. The legislation says that students of this age group must be vaccinated by March 31. But students who are younger than 16 have to get the vaccine within 70 days after their 16th birthday—or whenever their age group becomes fully FDA-approved.
The bill applies to all students and employees of licensed child development facilities in DC. The legislation does not specify how this mandate will be enforced.
The sole no vote in the Council was Ward 8’s Trayon White, who has also announced a mayoral run.
The measure would make the District the only jurisdiction in the region with such a mandate. The Virginia Department of Health denied a petition to mandate Covid-19 vaccines for school employees and all eligible students on Monday. While the department does have the legal authority to add new vaccine requirements for students, federal health agencies haven’t added the Covid-19 vaccine to its childhood immunization schedule.
As for Maryland, some lawmakers have been pushing for mandate in schools, but the health department said during a State Senate Vaccine Oversight Work Group meeting that a vaccine requirement is “not under consideration.”