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UC Won’t Wait For Federal Approval To Require Vaccines In The Fall

UC President Michael Drake, who is a physician, administering the 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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A University of California regent said on Tuesday that the university system will not wait for federal approval of a COVID-19 vaccine to make a fall vaccination requirement final.

“We feel confident that this is the best way forward,” said UC Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley. The university system’s policy-making body is being advised by UC President Michael Drake, who is a medical doctor, and other university system physicians.

“They have continued to inform the board that the science is strong, the vaccines are working,” Oakley said.

UC announced in April that students and employees who wished to return to the university’s 10 campuses would need to be vaccinated. Health and religious exemptions would apply.

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The requirement was contingent upon full federal approval of one of the COVID vaccines — so UC is scrapping that caveat. The change was reported by CalMatters on Tuesday.

Oakley said President Drake informed regents of the new direction "in the last week."

“The majority of folks who we've heard from are very supportive of this direction,” Oakley said. “They want to be protected. We want to make sure that our students are protected and our employees are protected.”

The larger California State University system made the same announcement in April, but hasn’t signed on to UC’s latest change.

“Our intention to implement a vaccine requirement pending full FDA approval is still the CSU’s current course of action,” said Michael Uhlenkamp, spokesman for the CSU chancellor, via email.

“We will continue to evaluate the situation as we move closer to the start of the fall term,” he said.

Last month, Pfizer became the first COVID vaccine maker to apply for full FDA approval, but it’s unclear when that may be granted.