January 25, 2022 California lawmakers have introduced two bills aimed at increasing childhood vaccinations against COVID-19. Senator Richard Pan (D – Sacramento) introduced SB 871 this week, which will require all K – 12 students to have the COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 1, 2023. Pan’s proposed mandate would eliminate personal and religious exemptions, tightening the restrictions laid out in Governor Newsom’s previous executive order on the issue. The bill also seeks to authorize the California Department of Public Health to mandate future vaccines, a move that would eliminate legislative input on vaccine requirements. Pan’s bill does not clarify the number of shots to be considered “fully vaccinated,” however, it seeks to implement the mandate regardless of federal approval of the vaccine. Also introduced is SB 866 by State Senator Scott Wiener (D – San Francisco), which would allow children 12 and older to choose to be vaccinated without a parent’s consent or knowledge. The two bills are products of the Vaccine Work Group, a group of Democratic legislators looking to develop “policies to strengthen our ability to stop the spread of COVID and other diseases while battling misinformation.” Vaccine bills have historically been met with intense constituent opposition and protests at the Capitol. The California Catholic Conference will continue monitoring and reporting on these vaccine-related bills as they move through the Legislature.