San Francisco Archdiocese not requiring students 5 and older to get COVID vaccine

FILE - 13-year-old celebrates being inoculated by Nurse Karen Pagliaro at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut on May 13, 2021.

The Archdiocese of San Francisco sent a letter this week stating they will not require students ages five and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at its parochial schools. 

The Catholic schools organization said it has received plenty of emails and phone calls over the past two months regarding concern over student vaccine mandates. 

"As a result of last week’s decision by the FDA and CDC to extend Emergency Use Authorization (EAU) to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to individuals five years old and up, we want to share that the Archdiocese of San Francisco does not require students ages five and up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine," Superintendent Pamela Lyons wrote.

Last week San Francisco health officials hinted towards an eventual vaccine mandate for the 5 to 11-year-old group in public places, but would allow for a certain period of time before they started enforcing the mandate for younger children. 

The letter further states, "We anticipate the state legislature will take up a bill in January 2022 to decide if the COVID-19 vaccine should be added to the existing list of 10 required vaccines and if, unlike the current ten required vaccinations, a religious or personal belief exemption will be permitted."

The superintendent added that the Archdiocese expects plenty of debate to accompany this legislature. 

Lyons thanked the staff, students, and community for a safe return to in-person learning thus far and said COVID case rates have been kept below .04% so far this school year. 

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San Francisco Unified School District is holding COVID vaccination clinics in conjunction with the city's health department for its students and has cited studies that show the vaccine is safe and effective in preventing infection and produces protective antibodies in teenagers. 

The Archdiocese is encouraging parents and guardians to get advice on the COVID vaccine for their children from health care professionals.