Over the past two and a half years, significant shifts have occurred in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health experts can rely on data trends that have emerged and will continue to emerge while the virus remains a public health and safety concern. State agencies are also basing and modifying their protocols and recommendations on such long-term data and analysis, rather than relying on acute or short-term trends in reported cases.
At the start of this legislative year in January, we were entering yet another spike in cases and hospitalizations due to the rapid proliferation of the Omicron variant. In response, a group of legislators introduced a bevy of strict COVID-19 bills, which are now looking less likely to garner the necessary support. The current lull in cases and the waning pandemic conditions in the state and throughout the country are making some of these legislators reconsider their efforts at stricter vaccine and testing requirements.
Some of the proposed measures legislators have considered include:
Requiring all workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 — AB 1993 by Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland).
Giving children 12 years and older the ability to receive any approved vaccination, including COVID-19, without parents’ approval — SB 886 by Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco).
Requiring COVID-19 vaccine for K-12 students to attend school and eliminate the personal belief exemption — SB 871 by Richard Pan, MD (D-Sacramento).
Requiring schools to develop COVID-19 testing plans — SB 1479 by Richard Pan, MD (D-Sacramento).
At the time of this writing, some legislators have pulled their bills from policy committee hearings while others are considering whether to have the bill follow the usual legislative course.
While tensions around this legislation remain high, members of the legislative vaccine caucus—a group of seven lawmakers who have introduced bills designed to reduce the virus’ spread and combat vaccine misinformation—say they’re committed to pushing ahead. We can expect some COVID-19 and vaccine-related bill proposals to continue.
Gabriela Villanueva is CAP’s Government and External Affairs Analyst. Questions or comments related to this article should be directed to GVillanueva@CAPphysicians.com.