California Will Require Vaccines For 1 Million College Students And Staff

California Will Require Vaccines For 1 Million College Students And Staff

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MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty

Two of the largest university systems in the country — the University of California and California State University — will require COVID-19 vaccines for all students and staff this fall

With vaccines now available to anyone 16 and over in the U.S., hopes of a somewhat normal fall semester for college students are growing more realistic. But there’s still one major hurdle to overcome: The people who are skeptical of COVID shots and don’t plan to get them. Schools all over the country have announced that they plan to require students and staff to be vaccinated if they plan to return to campus in the fall, and now the two largest university systems in the U.S. have joined that call: the University of California and California State University.

Both schools announced that they intend to require vaccines for their students and staff for the fall semester, which is major, since that amounts to around a million people at the two schools combined. CSU is the largest four-year-college system in the U.S. with nearly half a million students on 23 campuses, and the University of California is the second largest with more than 280,000 students on 10 campuses.

There is a potential snag in this plan — CSU said that it won’t enforce its vaccine mandate until the FDA fully approves at least one COVID shot. While three have so far been granted emergency use authorization in the U.S., none have been given full FDA approval, and it’s unclear when that might happen, though experts say at least one could gain full approval by fall.

CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro said the school was announcing its plans well in advance to give students and staff “ample time” to get their vaccines before the fall semester.

“Together, the CSU and UC enroll and employ more than 1 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,” he added.

Both schools will allow students and employees to request an exemption from getting vaccinated for medical or religious reasons, Castro said.

Many other schools across the country have announced similar vaccine requirements, including Stanford, Rutgers, Brown, Northeastern, Yale and Georgetown.

“We believe this approach to student vaccination is necessary to support health and safety this fall,” Stanford officials said in a statement earlier this week. “Vaccinations are a critical component in our efforts to mitigate risk and protect one another’s health within our student environment.”