Both the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems announced on Thursday that all students, faculty, and staff will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they wish to return to class and access university facilities beginning during the fall semester later this year.
According to the UC/CSU mandate, the requirement will remain in place as long as there is at least one FDA approved vaccine in use. Students and Employees can receive an exemption, but only for medical reasons, such as allergies, or because of religious beliefs.
The mandate, which will be in place at all 10 UC campuses and all 23 CSU campuses, affects over 1 million people in total, including 485,000 CSU students and 280,000 UC students who now need to be vaccinated should they wish to return to college this fall.
Both UC and CSU leaders said that they would be requiring total vaccinations in order to maintain the “health and safety of students, employees, guests and all members of campus communities”, as well as to help quicken the end of the pandemic in the United States.
“Together, the CSU and UC enroll and employ more than one 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,” noted CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro in a press release on Thursday. “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.
“The state of California has been a leader in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines, and Californians receiving a vaccine has led to significantly reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in our state. Continued vigilance will further mitigate the spread of the disease that has radically altered our lives over the past year. We will continue to strongly encourage all members of our respective university communities to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as it is available to them.”
UC President Michael Drake echoed Castro’s sentiments in a joint UC 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,” said Drake on Thursday.
The UC and CSU systems will join Stanford University, who announced earlier this week that all 19,000 students will need to be vaccinated by the fall as well, along with other top-tier universities across the country including Cornell, Brown, Rutgers, and Notre Dame.
“CSU and UC just brought in the largest chunk of mandatory vaccines in universities so far,” explained Melody Lopez, a demographic tracker who has been following vaccine trends nationwide, to the Globe. “We’re seeing more and more universities putting in vaccine requirements, but we haven’t really had complete public systems do a blanket requirement like this.
“A lot of colleges are going to follow their lead on this now, especially private universities. Many were waiting for a big public university example to put in their own requirements, and UC and CSU just gave them that.”
Students, faculty, and employees who have not been vaccinated yet will need to receive their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine by late July in order to be fully vaccinated in time to return for the fall semester this year.