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California Public Universities One Step Closer To Vaccine Requirement For Fall

UC President Michael Drake, who is a physician, administers a COVID-19 vaccination
UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D., administering COVID-19 vaccinations this spring at a community pop-up immunization hub in San Francisco’s Mission District.
(University of California
/
Courtesy UC Health)
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After more than a year of COVID-19 related bad news, University of California’s regents received some good news last week from the top administrator of the university system’s large health and hospital network: Pfizer became the first medical company to request full FDA approval of its vaccine. As of now, all vaccines are being administered through the FDA's emergency use authorization.

“We expect the FDA to take their time over the next several weeks to review all of the data,” said UC Health Executive Vice President Dr. Carrie Byington.“We do expect full licensure to occur before the fall classes begin for the UC system.”

The news has major repercussions. When UC announced the vaccine requirement last month, it was relying on full approval of one of the three COVID vaccines.

UC Health EVP
Carrie L. Byington, M.D., University of California Health executive vice president and an infectious disease expert, administering COVID-19 vaccinations at the Petco Park site this spring.
Courtesy UC Health)
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Full approval of Pfizer’s vaccine would activate UC’s requirement for the fall. The much larger California State University system adopted the same requirement for its students and employees who wish to use campus facilities in the fall when classes resume.

Neither UC or CSU have committed the policy to paper. Both university systems said leadership is talking to employees, students and others as they finalize the policies.

UC issued two sets of vaccination FAQs, one for students and one for employees.

Some takeaways from those FAQs:

  • Exceptions for medical and religious reasons will be allowed.
  • Students who do not get vaccinated would still have access to instruction online.
  • Full dosage of vaccines under emergency approval, such as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, would meet the requirement.
  • UC did not detail consequences for people who do not comply, and left it up to campuses to communicate those details.