Over one million college students and faculty will need to get their Covid jab by this fall under a new plan announced by two of California’s biggest university systems.
(CN) — For more than a year, state university campuses across California have been largely empty and students and professors have been forced to adapt to an online college experience. But the CSU and UC systems have their eyes set on reopening this fall, announcing Thursday they will require Covid-19 vaccines for students and faculty in order to return to campus
The California State University and the University of California’s vaccination requirements affect more than a million students and faculty across the Golden State.
While ideally the requirement would begin with the fall 2021 term, students and faculty won’t be required to get the jab until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration formally approves one or more of the vaccines on the market for general use. The FDA issued emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer and Moderna Covid vaccines this past December, but the vaccines could receive full approval later this year. Use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been paused pending investigation over reports of rare blood clots.
Immunization requirements are nothing new for California colleges, but students and faculty who return to school in the fall will be in classrooms, libraries, gyms and labs for the first time in a world with Covid-19.
CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro called the approach “the most comprehensive and consequential university plan for Covid-19 vaccines in the country.”
UC President Michael Drake, a medical doctor, said in a statement, “Receiving a vaccine for the virus that causes Covid-19 is a key step people can take to protect themselves, their friends and family, and our campus communities while helping bring the pandemic to an end.”
While terms of the university system vaccine plan have yet to be finalized, officials announced the plan now to give students, faculty and staff time to prepare. Students will need to update their vaccination records or provide an approved exception or medical exemption before they enroll for their fall semester. University officials say if students are unable to find a vaccination provider on their own, their student health centers might be able to help.
The CSU system boasts over 485,000 students across 20 campuses. The UC system has 10 campuses with over 280,000 students and roughly 227,000 faculty and staff.
News of the university vaccine plan comes as California has one of the lowest case rates in the country.
As of Thursday, roughly 43% of all Californians 16 years and older have received at least one vaccine dose.