The California State University and University of California systems jointly announced Thursday that they intend to require all students, faculty and staff returning for on-campus classes and activities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The requirement, however, would not take effect until one or more of the COVID vaccines receives “full approval” from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Current vaccines are being administered under emergency-use authorizations from the FDA.
The universities’ planned vaccination requirement will take effect upon “full approval” occurring or the beginning of the fall semester, whichever is later. Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna are both in what is known as Phase 3 Efficacy Trials and could apply to the FDA for full approval of the vaccines at any time.
CSU and UC officials said the planned requirement will be discussed with faculty and student representatives, along with labor groups. But they opted to announce the planned requirement Thursday so all members of the campus community can start arranging to get vaccinated before the fall term begins.
Both university systems are expected to allow for exemptions based on medical or religious grounds.
“Together, the CSU and UC enroll and employ more than 1 million students and employees across 33 major university campuses, so this is the most comprehensive and consequential university plan for COVID-19 vaccines in the country,” CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said in a statement.
“Consistent with previous CSU announcements related to the university’s response to the pandemic, we are sharing this information now to give students, their families and our employees ample time to make plans to be vaccinated prior to the start of the fall term.”
UC President Michael V. Drake added, “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.”
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of California Community Colleges, said decisions about requiring vaccinations at its campuses will be left to individual community college districts across the state. But Oakley urged all students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated.
“Californians 16 and older are now eligible to get vaccinated, so we want everyone to take this important step in protecting themselves and their communities so we can put this pandemic behind us,” Oakley said. “With many of our campuses serving as vaccination hubs, we are encouraged by the progress of vaccination deployment in our state.”
Updated at 2:41 p.m. April 22, 2021