SACRAMENTO – California’s two public university systems announced Thursday that they will require nearly 800,000 students to receive the Covid-19 vaccine as early as this fall as part of the nation’s largest higher education testing requirement.
California State University and the University of California have proposed the requirement for students, faculty, and staff for the fall semester of 2021 – subject to full FDA approval. In total, the requirement could apply to more than a million people.
UC and CSU schedule mostly in-person classes when the school year begins in August.
The timeline for full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval remains uncertain. Vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been given under emergency use authorization, and the J&J vaccine is on hold as federal authorities investigate rare cases of blood clots. The process for some vaccines had taken years before, although some health officials predicted that one of the vaccines could be approved by the fall.
Students and staff could apply for a medical or religious exemption under the new policy, CSU officials said Thursday.
“The State of California has been a leader in the administration of Covid-19 vaccines, and Californians receiving a vaccine have led to drastically reduced transmission of Covid-19 in our state,” said the Chancellor of the CSU, Joseph Castro, in a statement. “Continued vigilance will further mitigate the spread of the disease which has dramatically changed our lives over the past year.” We will continue to strongly encourage all members of our respective university communities to receive a vaccine against Covid-19 as soon as it becomes available. . ”
A growing number of private universities have started announcing fall vaccine requirements for FDA-free students. On Thursday, that included Stanford University, whose provost announced plans for a term as well as a regular Covid-19 testing requirement for students who receive an exemption for personal or religious reasons.
Before officially adding the vaccine to existing CSU vaccination requirements, the 23-campus CSU system will meet with unions and student associations, officials said Thursday, adding that details of the policy are still being worked out. .
UC, which has 10 campuses, including graduate-only UC San Francisco, released a “policy proposal” on Thursday while encouraging students and staff to get vaccinated now.