SACRAMENTO — California’s two public university systems announced Thursday they will require nearly 800,000 students to receive the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as this fall in the nation’s most sweeping higher education testing requirement.
California State University and University of California proposed the requirement for students, faculty and staff for the fall 2021 semester — contingent on full FDA approval. All told, the requirement could apply to more than 1 million people.
Both UC and CSU are planning for mostly in-person instruction when the academic year begins in August.
The timeline for full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval remains unclear. Vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been administered under emergency use authorization, and the J&J shot is on hold as federal officials study rare cases of blood clots. The process for some vaccines have taken years before, though some health officials have predicted that one of the vaccines could be approved by the fall.
Students and staff would be able to seek 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 has led to significantly reducing the transmission of Covid-19 in our state,” CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro said in a statement. “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.”
A growing number of private universities have begun announcing fall vaccine requirements for students without the FDA contingency. On Thursday, that included Stanford University, whose provost announced plans for a mandate along with a regular Covid-19 test requirement for students who receive an exemption for personal or religious reasons.
Before officially adding the vaccine to CSU’s existing immunization requirements, the 23-campus CSU system will meet with labor unions and student associations, officials said Thursday, adding that the policy details are still in development.
UC, which has 10 campuses including graduate-only UC San Francisco, released a “proposed policy” Thursday while encouraging students and staff to get vaccinated now.