Student vaccinated
A San Diego Unified student is vaccinated in school. Courtesy of the district

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a last-minute injunction Sunday temporarily preventing the San Diego Unified School District‘s COVID-19 vaccine mandate from going into effect in December.

The court said the injunction would be in place until the school district removes an exemption for pregnant students. The exemption is allowed even though the vaccines have been shown to be safe for pregnancy.

Judge Sandra Segal Ikuta noted in the order that the district treats students “seeking relief from the vaccination mandate for secular reasons more favorably than students seeking relief for religious reasons.”

A 16-year-old Scripps Ranch High School student and her parents had sued to block the mandate, citing a religious objection because the vaccines were developed in part from stem cell lines derived decades ago from aborted fetuses.

The district’s plan requires that all students over age 16 receive their second dose no later than Dec. 20. According to the family’s filings, that means students’ first dose must be received by Nov. 29 in order to be considered fully vaccinated by Dec. 20.

“Although the case is still in its early stages, this is a significant victory. SDUSD should promptly revise its policy to include religious exemptions for students,” said Paul Jonna, a Rancho Santa Fe attorney representing the family in partnership with the conservative Thomas More Society.

Under the policy, unvaccinated students 16 years or older would be required to take part in remote learning via independent study.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.