UC and Cal State Schools Announce Policy That Makes COVID-19 Vaccinations Mandatory for 33 Universities

Image via UCLA Campus News Room

By Meghan Imperio

Many universities all over the country have already made the new COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory including Columbia, Yale, Princeton, along with over five dozen other universities. Recently, both the University of California (UC) and the California State University (Cal State) systems have announced that they may also join the dozens of other universities and make the vaccination a requirement for enrollment.

UC announced its plans to allow more in-person classes and campus activities starting Fall 2021 for the new school year. However, a part of ensuring that they will be able to welcome students back to campus is by strongly encouraging students, staff, and faculty to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and possibly make it mandatory.

However, UC and Cal State have hesitated to make it a requirement just yet due to questions of whether or not it is legal to require vaccines that have not yet been formally approved by the FDA. Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines have been distributed under an emergency authorization, with the distribution of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine just recently being resumed after pausing due to reports of rare blood clots.

According to the LA Times, much like their current exemption system for already-required vaccinations such as varicella, measles, and the recent influenza vaccine requirements, “The COVID-19 directive would allow for students or employees to seek an exemption based on medical or religious grounds.”

The article goes on to describe that less than 2% of UC students request vaccination exemptions for the current vaccination requirements.

Unlike UC and Cal State, the California Community Colleges will not be making a state-wide decision to require vaccinations but instead will leave the decision to each local district.

However, Eloy Ortiz, the chancellor of California Community Colleges encourages students and employees to get vaccinated in order to “speed a return to in-person instruction.”

The President of the UC system, President Michael V. Drake describes that making the vaccine mandatory for all students, faculty, and staff with certain exemptions is crucial in ensuring the safety of each individual and the community at large.

The UC press release which lays out this new policy states that “With an increasing number of people expected to return to UC locations, vaccination is essential for the safety and well-being of the community. Additionally, physical distancing, mask-wearing and frequent hand-washing and cleaning will continue to be crucial for daily campus life.”

Currently, the COVID-19 vaccinations are not required of students and employees of the two university systems but are strongly recommended and encouraged.

The two leaders of the UC and Cal State systems made this announcement in order to give students and employees time to get their vaccinations before the start of the school year and plan accordingly ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to receive the vaccine before it becomes mandatory at the start of the upcoming school year.

Further, this announcement was made in hopes that it would encourage other campuses to require mandatory vaccinations. So far, about 64 out of the 5,300 colleges and universities around the nation have announced that the coronavirus vaccination will be required for the upcoming school year. Four of these 64 colleges and universities are public schools.

According to the article, “Dr. Carrie Byington, a UC executive vice president who heads UC Health, said the university system—which includes six academic health centers and 10 campuses—sought to set a national model in announcing the vaccination policy.”

The article goes on to describe that “UC officials began working on the policy in October and concluded that vaccines were the most important tool to safely increase density on campuses, which have been virtually shut down for classes since March 2020. Their modeling indicated that outbreaks would still occur if less than 50% of students were vaccinated.”

Byington adds that even though the new COVID-19 vaccinations do not have the amount of evidence of efficacy, safety, and long-term effects as older vaccinations, the data from the hundreds of millions of vaccines given in the US only are good indications of the vaccines’ efficacy and safety.

If one of the three current COVID-19 vaccinations currently administered under an emergency use authorization receives full FDA approval by the start of the school year, UC and Cal State will likely add the 33 major universities of the school systems to the growing list of colleges and universities requiring the new vaccine for the upcoming school year, therefore sparking a movement of more colleges and universities to follow.

Meghan Imperio is a writer for the LA Vanguard’s social justice desk. She is an English major at UCLA, originally from Glendale, CA.

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  1. Chris Griffith

    Where does this stop? Do they add a checkpoint for food stores? Do I need a passport to go to the bakery and buy fresh bread? Will there be armed police to enforce this? I have an idea how about a barcode tattoo on the forearm that would be better. Just scan your arm when you enter the classroom.

    1. David Greenwald

      I think you mean to ask, where does this start, because I recall having to show up to date vaccinations to enroll my kids in school and to enroll in college myself 30 years ago.

      I’m fairly sure in order to drive, you have to have a license, registration and insurance. Can’t remember you complaining about that.

  2. Chris Griffith

    First off I must say I’m not an antivaxter and I did get the shots.

    Children of this age group as you know love to protest everything if you tell him to do something they will do the complete opposite so just present it to him in a different way 🙂


    We have pretty much stopped evolution by making the chance of surviving and having a chance to reproduce close to 100%. Not only for ourselves, but other species as well. Evolution has become an enemy, and is well on the way to becoming history.


    The only ethical solution I can see that causes neither unnecessary suffering for future children, nor an unfair advantage for the rich tribes, is to let culling take place. The reproductive rate of humans is high enough to compensate for a fair amount of childhood deaths. A smaller ratio of children dying now may be preferable to a larger ratio of children suffering from problems in the future. Let a statistically significant number of children die. As long as we don’t engage in eugenics by deciding who gets a better chance than others, evolution will tally the score.

    After describing all this to them and they still choose not to get vaccinated let mother nature take its course and simply we’ll just have them taken out of the food chain problem solved. 😃

    But in my humble opinion we should never make it a requirement or law to do a particular thing It is their body and they need to make the decisions for themselves they might have underdeveloped brands they simply need a little bit of prodding in order to make the right decisions.


    1. David Greenwald

      I’m not in favor of legal requirements, and generally in favor of choice. BUT… choice isn’t a get out of jail free card either. If you choose not to do something, that might mean you are choosing to give up other things… like perhaps college at a UC or CSU.

    2. Bill Marshall

      But in my humble opinion we should never make it a requirement or law to do a particular thing It is their body and they need to make the decisions for themselves they might have underdeveloped brands they simply need a little bit of prodding in order to make the right decisions.

      Yes… pro-choice, particularly when it is the individual making the choice for themselves, is pretty good policy… those who choose not to be vaccinated, should accept the other consequence… indeterminate self-isolation… I have no problems with that choice…

  3. Bill Marshall

     I have an idea how about a barcode tattoo on the forearm that would be better.

    An idea that was actually used (#’s, not bar codes) about 80-85 years ago… not designating vaccination status, but ironically, many of those tattooed ended up being transported in “cattle-cars” to their ‘final destinations’… your “solution” has been used before… I suggest it never be repeated…

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