Parents had been contacting me about the effect of all these new California vaccine mandates. I was reluctant to respond for many reasons, not the least of which is that I had heard some rumblings that the usually legislatively effective Senator Pan was having trouble with his bill to add the COVID vaccine to the list of in-person school mandated vaccinations. I knew that all the lobbying groups against mandatory vaccination were hard at work working behind the scenes and in public (like last Sunday’s event in Los Angeles) and I figured it was best to give it some time to see how it played out.
Well, as you probably know, yesterday, Senator Pan tabled his bill. Governor Newsom’s more liberal mandate (allowing a PBE) was also delayed by the CDPH until July 1, 2023. For parents who didn’t want to give their kids the COVID vaccine, that is welcome news.
To me, one of the interesting lessons is that even in a supermajority democratic state like California, there are limits to how far the Democratic legislators will go to impose their view of public health. I think in part this is because of where we are in the pandemic. Specifically, it looks like we are in the endemic stage. The virus appears to be weakening. A high percentage of the population has either been fully vaccinated or had been previously infected. Maybe we are approaching herd immunity, or maybe not. But if the hospitalizations and deaths do not uptick with these new and subsequent variants, then this COVID problem might end up like the seasonal endemic flu.
The other thing that needs to happen (and I think it will over the course of the next year) is that the public health authorities will fully acknowledge that natural immunity is at least as protective if not more so than the vaccine, at least in some COVID variations. That should (with the right and forceful push from the public) make natural immunity part of any future public health discussion of mandates.
In the next year, I expect the COVID vaccines to obtain full FDA approval for children. You should expect Senator Pan to reintroduce his bill next year, at least if there are continued outbreaks of new COVID varients. There will be another year’s worth of data. I would expect that subsequent variants continue to have less lethality, testing gets easier, and more treatments will be introduced. If so, I would expect the same forces which stopped Senator Pan and the Governor this time will succeed again next year. So for now, parents should enjoy the W.
Rick Jaffe, Esq.