UC, CSU to require COVID-19 vaccine for faculty, staff and students who come to campus

The Cal State University and University of California systems will require faculty, staff and students returning to campus to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as the FDA gives full approval of one of the available vaccines, officials said in a statement Thursday.

So far Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson have emergency approval from the FDA. It’s not clear when full authorization could be granted.

In a statement, the CSU and UC said employees and students would be required to be vaccinated by the fall semester, or upon FDA approval of one of the vaccines, whichever is later.

The public education institutions, which enroll and employ more than one million people across 33 campuses, follow the lead of Rutgers University late last month and other educational and health employers.

The statement said the CSU will engage with the labor unions and other faculty and student groups before implementation of the policy. A spokeswoman with the California Faculty Association could not immediately be reached for comment.

The COVID-19 vaccination requirement would allow for students or employees to seek an exemption based on medical or religious grounds, the statement said.

“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,” UC President Michael V. Drake said in a statement.

The CSU plans for the majority of instruction and activities in fall 2021 to be in-person.

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.”

City News Service contributed to this report. 

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Melissa has been a journalist for over two decades, starting her career as a reporter covering health and religion and moving into local news. She has worked as an editor for eight years, including seven years at the Press Telegram before joining the Long Beach Post in June 2018. She also serves as a part-time lecturer at Cal State Long Beach where she teaches multimedia journalism and writing.