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Monday, July 15, 2024

University of California plans COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Fall Quarter

The mandate will be subject to the widespread availability and full FDA approval, but will fall in line with other vaccination requirements UC Davis already has in place

By KATHLEEN QUINN and REBECCA GARDNER — campus@theaggie.org

The University of California announced yesterday that it plans to require a COVID-19 vaccination for attending in-person courses Fall Quarter assuming vaccine availability and full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

Currently, the COVID-19 vaccines remain under emergency-use authorization (EUA) and the legality of mandating vaccines under EUA is unclear. The decision to require students to provide proof of vaccination is contingent on the FDA approval of the vaccines beyond their current designation of EUA.

Dana Toupopis, the chief marketing and communications officer for UC Davis, responded on behalf of UC Davis Chancellor Gary May via email, directing questions to the University of California’s Office of the President. 

“We should have an announcement about our overall fall plans in the next week or so,” Toupopis said via email. 

UC Davis has so far encouraged students to self-report their vaccination status through the Health-e-Messaging platform. As of now, this has been entirely voluntary. 

UC Davis announced its intention to reopen the campus to full capacity for Fall Quarter in late December of last year

The California State University system also joined the UC system in moving toward a vaccine requirement, affecting all four-year public universities in the state.

Many UC Davis students expressed support of the University of California Office of the President’s decision.

Eddy Nikoff, a third-year philosophy major, said that while he was initially skeptical of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, because of their novelty, he understands the rationale behind the mandate. 

“I see mandating the COVID-19 vaccine just like mandating the flu shot,” Nikoff said. “It makes sense because if people aren’t vaccinated and they have school in-person if there is an outbreak, [the UC] is liable for creating a super-spreading environment. They’d be responsible for deaths.”

Anastasiya Osher, a fourth-year physics major also said that requiring COVID-19 vaccination, upon FDA approval, isn’t unlike requiring other vaccinations.

“I think it’s no different than mandating other vaccinations,” Osher said. “I don’t disagree with [the UC]. It’s not like the vaccines are really dangerous.”

Dr. Wolf-Dietrich Heyer, the chair of the department of microbiology and molecular genetics department, said that many UC Davis faculty agree the vaccination mandate is a crucial measure to assure a safe return to the classroom in Fall.

“From my conversations with colleagues, I encountered essentially no hesitancy in getting vaccinated against COVID-19, and I expect that a vaccination mandate comes paired with a public information campaign to address potential concerns,” Heyer said via email. “A vaccination mandate is critical to ensure a safe return to in-person instruction that makes students, staff and faculty comfortable.”

Under California law, students may exempt themselves from presenting proof of vaccination on the basis of medical or religious justifications much in the same way other vaccine requirements operate at UC Davis. 

Currently, approximately 30% of residents of Yolo County are completely vaccinated, with approximately 47% having received at least the first dose. 

For now, students are required to present a self-reported negative Daily Symptom Survey when accessing campus facilities. The Daily Symptom Survey does not ask for proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Looking forward there is speculation that digital vaccine passports could be implemented in settings across the country including universities and workplaces to provide proof of vaccination.

The UC encourages all students, faculty and staff to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination as soon they are eligible. All persons over the age of 16 are eligible to receive vaccination as of April 16.

Written by: Kathleen Quinn and Rebecca Gardner — campus@theaggie.org


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