DC may delay COVID-19 vaccination deadline for students again

D.C.’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination deadline for eligible school kids, may be pushed back again.

The D.C. Council is expected to take a vote on temporary and emergency legislation on Nov. 1 to push back the deadline almost another year to the beginning of the 2023-24 school year. The current deadline is Jan. 3, 2023.

A spokesperson for Council member Christina Henderson told WTOP that she is pushing for the delay and is co-introducing the bill with Chair Phil Mendelson. School leaders expressed some concerns on the number of students who may miss classes for not complying with the mandate, the spokesperson said.

However, Thomas Farley, senior deputy director for D.C. Health’s community health administration, said during a D.C. Council hearing on Tuesday that this is not a change in health policy.

“We certainly think children should be vaccinated, but there is hesitancy around the COVD vaccine, which we have not seen in routine pediatric immunizations,” Farley said.

It’s estimated that about 45% of children over the age of 12, who must get fully vaccinated under D.C. policy, still have not.

Henderson, who introduced the legislation, said during the hearing that since that mandate was introduced in October 2021, a lot has changed about the way public health officials understand the coronavirus.

“A year ago … every single person in the District who had died of COVID was unvaccinated, and every single person except for one was Black,” she said. “So we were dealing with something that was literally killing people in our community, and we had a vaccine that was available that we felt at the time could prevent that.”

Henderson also acknowledged the council may chose to eliminate the mandate altogether over the course of the next year if the mandate’s delay is approved.

Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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