Bills on School Testing and Updating the Immunization Registry Advance

SB 1479 (Pan) passed Sen. Education, AB 1797 (Weber) out of Asm. Health & Education Committees

April 27, 2022

SACRAMENTO – State Senator Dr. Richard Pan’s SB 1479 to require schools to develop COVID-19 testing plans, and Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber’s AB 1797 to update California’s immunization registry, passed out of Legislative Committees and both advance to their respective house of origin Appropriations Committee. Together these bills equip schools with tools and resources to help mitigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but also to be ready for future health emergencies.

Last week, SB 1479 (Pan) passed out of Senate Health Committee and today it passed out of Senate Education Committee. AB 1797 (Weber) passed out of Assembly Health Committee yesterday, and today it passed out of Assembly Education Committee.

SB 1479 would require the California Department of Public Health to work with school districts to develop a COVID-19 testing plan for each school, including preschools, childcare centers and after school programs. The bill, contingent on a state or federal appropriation, also helps ensure that adequate resources are made available for school districts to implement their COVID-19 testing plans.

AB 1797 updates the use and functionality of the California Immunization Registry (CAIR2) by requiring data submissions to support health equity and accuracy through ensuring all relevant practitioners are entering immunization data and also requiring race and ethnicity information. Importantly, this bill makes sure that schools have access to check immunization status in the case of health emergencies like the ongoing pandemic.

Both bills will help keep California’s schools open and safe, and have received significant support from student-led organizations including Teens for Vaccines and Generation Up, in addition to school districts and organizations representing physicians, medical professionals and public health advocates.

State Senator Dr. Richard Pan said, “Providing our schools the necessary tools and resources to keep kids learning safely in classrooms during public health emergencies is critical. I am thankful to both the Senate and Assembly Education Committees for advancing SB 1479 and AB 1797 respectively.”

Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber said, “Thank you to the members of the Health and Education Committees for voting to pass my bill, AB 1797. I am happy to author this bill, which will improve and update California’s long-existing immunization registry. The enhanced system will provide our schools and public health officials with the necessary vaccination data to keep our children and communities safe.”

Cady Chen, high school student and member of Generation Up’s Executive Team said, “Generation Up is thankful that SB 1479 to require school testing plans, and AB 1797 to increase vaccine equity and provide schools the ability to confirm immunization statuses of students, both passed out of their house of origin policy committees. Students want to be safe and know our families are safe which is why our 4,000-strong student-led organization is advocating for these important policies.”

Arin Parsa, high school student and founder of Teens for Vaccines said, “Students want schools to help keep us safe from preventable diseases like COVID-19, which is why we have been fighting to support the work of the legislative Vaccine Work Group. Schools need testing plans and resources, as well as updated access to the immunization registry, to keep us safe. Thanks to the Health and Education Committees in the Senate for advancing SB 1479, and in the Assembly for advancing AB 1797.”

Catherine Flores-Martin, Executive Director of the California Immunization Coalition said, “Updating the immunization registry to address vaccine inequities and school access issues, as well as getting schools the needed resources for COVID-19 testing programs, will make sure our schools have the tools they need to keep our kids safely learning in the classroom. I am thankful for the leadership of Dr. Pan and Dr. Weber, and that these important bills easily advanced out their policy committees.”

On January 19, Dr. Pan and six other legislators announced the formation of a legislative Vaccine Work Group to facilitate coordinated action to promote vaccines and science-based public health policy. Members of the Vaccine Work Group are advancing legislation and policies to help combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and protect public health: SB 866, the Teens Choose Vaccines Act; SB 1018, establishing transparency for online platforms; SB 1296, framework for an organized viral surveillance system; SB 1479, to require school testing plans; AB 1797, to modernize California’s Immunization Registry; and, AB 2098, establishing accountability for licensed medical professionals spreading disinformation.

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