A federal judge has vacated the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff at Head Start early childhood learning centers in the US. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had imposed a vaccine requirement, as well as a mask mandate, for those aged two years and older.
The judge called the HHS rule “arbitrary and capricious” and accused it of failing to follow proper rulemaking procedures.
The Texas attorney general’s office had filed a lawsuit in December 2021 claiming the mandate was invalid. The vaccine requirement remained in effect after the HHS said in September 2022 it would no longer enforce the mask mandate.
Head Start is a US Department of Health and Human Services program that delivers holistic early childhood education, nutrition, health, and parental engagement support to families and children from low-income backgrounds. Enrollment in the program dropped by 33%.