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Friday, September 24, 2021

It remains unclear whether the COVID-19 vaccine will be mandatory for UC students

Amid statewide vaccine shortages and new coronavirus variants, herd immunity is unlikely in the near future

Although the UC anticipates reopening for in-person instruction for Fall Quarter 2021 due to advances in COVID-19 research and vaccine availability, university officials have not yet decided whether the vaccine will be mandatory for students. 

In an email sent to The California Aggie, UCOP Spokesperson Heather Harper said the UC “does not anticipate making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory.” However, Dana Topousis, a spokesperson for UC Davis, said the decision has not yet been made for UC Davis students.

“Chancellor May and other campus leaders continue to consult with their counterparts at the other campuses and with UC,” said Dana Topousis, a spokesperson for UC Davis, in an email. “We will have further guidance once a system-wide decision has been made one way or another and once we’ve formulated our campus response based on consultation with public health officials.”

Dr. Cindy Schorzman, the medical director of Student Health and Counseling Services at UC Davis, also spoke via email about the UC’s reliance on changing public health guidelines when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine requirements for students during Fall Quarter 2021. 

“UC Davis will take into account any guidance and directives from UCOP, as well as those from federal, state and local public health authorities when determining vaccination recommendations for students in the fall,” Schorzman wrote in an email. 

Currently, UC Davis Health is vaccinating healthcare workers from both the university and non-affiliated health facilities. Other eligible individuals include people living in long-term care facilities, UC Davis Health patients 65 and older and UC Davis Health patients who work in education and childcare, emergency services and food and agriculture. 

A new COVID-19 variant has also emerged recently. Healthy Davis Together, in partnership with the UC Davis Genome Center, identified the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant in the Sacramento region the week of Feb. 8. 

This variant is considered more contagious than previous versions of the coronavirus. Health officials have predicted that the variant will double in relative frequency in the U.S. every 10 days. 

Accordingly, local public health representatives have stressed that while cases are declining in Yolo County, vigilance about current health guidelines remains crucial.

This may be even more important since access to the vaccine remains a challenge for many Californians, even if they are already eligible for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently available to designated groups in the United States. 

Recent shipment delays and shortages in Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco and Yolo County—among other locations—have slowed down the vaccination process. An article in the Daily Democrat noted that Yolo County suspended vaccine appointments last week after shipments were delayed by storms in other parts of the country. 
Written by: Rebecca Bihn-Wallace — campus@theaggie.org

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