East Bay school district rescinds student COVID vax mandate after legal battle

The Piedmont Unified School District has rescinded its COVID-19 vaccine requirement after a judge stayed it earlier this month. District officials are now saying they will support state legislation mandating the vaccine.

On Jan. 13, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman stayed the district’s requirement that students aged 5-18 be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Children's Health Defense and Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids, two nonprofits opposing childhood vaccine requirements in schools, sued the district alongside two anonymous parents.

Podcast Episode
KCBS Radio: On-Demand
The Piedmont Unified School District revokes vaccine mandate
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

The Board of Education unanimously voted on Wednesday to rescind the vaccine mandate, while also showing full support for the policy. Piedmont Superintendent Randall Booker said during the meeting that 98% of district students are vaccinated, adding he was “really proud” to be one of the first California school districts to institute a mandate.

Oakland-based attorney Jessica Barsotti, a lawyer with Newport Beach-based Facts Law Truth Justice who represented the anti-vaccine groups and parents in the lawsuit, chided the district for not waiting until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully authorized the vaccines for children as young as 5.

Currently, only the two-dose Pfizer vaccine is approved for full use in everyone above the age of 16. The two-dose vaccine for children aged 15 and younger is approved under an emergency authorization.

"If you're not going to wait for that, then what is the purpose of having an FDA approval process in the first place?" Barsotti said.

There are likely more battles ahead. The Piedmont school board rescinding its mandate with a unanimous vote of support for legislation now being considered at the state level for vaccine mandates.

A bill introduced by Dr. Richard Pan, a California state senator representing parts of Sacramento County, would add the coronavirus vaccine to the list of immunizations required for students to enroll in public or private schools beginning in 2023.

"We just need to put pressure on our legislature to support us so that we're not an outlier, but everyone steps up to where we were," school board member Amal Smith said during the meeting.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images