SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two of the nation’s largest university systems say they intend to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, faculty and staff on University of California and California State University campuses this fall once the Food and Drug Administration gives formal approval.
Several U.S. colleges and universities have said they plan to require the vaccination on campuses this fall. But Thursday’s joint announcement from the 10-campus University of California and the 23-campus California State University is the largest of its kind in American higher education. The CSU system in the nation’s biggest, with about 485,000 students and tens of thousands of staff.
“There is a lot of work that is ahead of us,” said Sacramento State Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Ed Mills. “This gives us a lot of time to plan, to work out all the details and make sure we can implement this successfully.”
The mandate will only go into effect if the FDA gives full authorization to one or more of the vaccines and if an agreement with labor unions can be reached.
“I think it’s welcomed news,” said Aidan Arasasingham.
Arasasingham is the president of the UC Student Association, and he tells FOX40 the association asked for this and continue to support it as along as the system address concerns about vaccine access and equity.
“UC needs to be able to guarantee no-cost vaccine access for the students returning to fall on campus at those student health centers,” Arasasingham said.
The Cal State Student Association hasn’t taken an official stance on the system’s vaccine requirement. But their president Zahraa Khuraibet says she hopes the schools give clear communication of the expectations of students, what the exemption process is and provide alternatives for students who don’t want to get vaccinated.
“I think just given how quick on their feet our institution has been overall. I think we should be able to address these issues,” Khuraibet said.
Over at Sac State, Dr. Mills says out of around 30,000 students who attend, more than 3,000 have received their shots at the school’s vaccine site.
For faculty and staff, around 3,000 to 4,000 of them have received the vaccine. But he hopes the number increases over the next few weeks and months.
“We want to continue to do that and make sure our students have information about the vaccine because there is a lot of misinformation around.” Mills said.
“Together, the CSU and UC enroll and employ more than one 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,” CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said in the statement.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being distributed under the FDA’s emergency authorization. Health experts expect formal approval of at least one by the fall. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is on pause due to concerns about blood clots.
The two university systems will provide exemptions based on medical or religious reasons.