FAQ on UC's proposed COVID-19 vaccination policy

How to provide feedback on the proposal

April 27, 2021
Author: University Communications
April 27, 2021

The University of California last week shared the details of a proposed policy on COVID-19 vaccination as part of its engagement with its community as it joins the California State University in supporting immunizations as part of an expected return of students, faculty, academic appointees and staff to in-person instruction across the state this fall.

“Receiving a vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19 is a key step people can take to protect themselves, their friends and family, and our campus communities while helping bring the pandemic to an end,” said UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D. 

Read the full proposed policy here.

Students, faculty, and staff members can provide feedback about the proposed policy to CovidVaccinePolicyComments@ucop.edu no later than May 31.

Given the importance of vaccination, UC is engaging its community in a discussion of the details of the proposed policy now so that students, faculty, academic appointees and staff will have ample time to obtain the vaccine ahead of the fall term.

Under the proposed policy, the University would require students, faculty, academic appointees and staff who are accessing campus facilities at any UC location beginning this fall to be immunized against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. UC already strongly encourages students, faculty, academic appointees and staff to voluntarily obtain a vaccination as soon as they are eligible and able to schedule an appointment. The requirement would go into effect once a vaccine has full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Students planning to access UC campuses for the fall will need to update their immunization documentation on file to indicate vaccination or an approved exception or medical exemption prior to coming on campus. For those who are unable to receive a vaccine prior to campus arrival, student health centers may be able to help find a local resource for vaccination but special protections may be required.

Faculty, academic appointees, and staff will be advised on the process for providing vaccination information after a policy is finalized. 

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. 

UCOP has prepared FAQs for both students and employees on the proposed policy. Below are some excerpts from the FAQs.

Why is UC sharing a proposed policy? When will a final policy be ready? 

The University is engaging its community in a discussion of the details of the proposed policy now, so students, faculty, academic appointees and staff will have ample time to obtain the vaccine ahead of the fall semester. UC is working on the details for faculty, academic appointees and staff and is sharing the proposed policy with labor leaders. UC expects that a final policy will be ready for the start of the fall 2021 term. The proposed policy is contingent on full approval of a COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and reasonable access to vaccine doses.

Does the proposed policy require vaccination for all employees or only those who work on-site? 

Pending full approval of a COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and reasonable access to vaccine doses, the requirement to receive a COVID-19 vaccination would take effect for faculty, academic appointees and staff who may access UC facilities or programs in person starting in the fall of 2021. Faculty, academic appointees, and staff who work only remotely would not be required to receive a vaccination for the fall but will need to be immunized before returning to a University location under the current proposed policy.

Does the proposed policy require vaccination for all students or only those who participate in on-site activities? 

Pending full approval of a COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and reasonable access to vaccine doses, the requirement to receive a COVID-19 vaccination would take effect for students who may access UC facilities or programs in person starting in the fall of 2021. Students who will participate only via remote University programs are not required to receive a vaccination for the fall but will need to be immunized before returning to a campus. However, options for remote instruction and programs will be limited.

What are the consequences of non-compliance for employees and students? 

The proposed policy is contingent on full approval of a COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and reasonable access to vaccine doses. If the proposed policy is adopted as drafted, faculty, academic appointees and staff who choose not to be immunized and who do not receive an approved medical exemption or religious belief exception may be limited in accessing UC facilities.
Students who choose not to be immunized and who do not receive an approved medical exemption or religious belief exception would remain eligible to receive University services, but will be limited in course registration, will not be permitted to attend in-person classes or events, and will not be able to access campus facilities including housing.

How would these consequences be enforced? 

UC campuses have systems in place for promoting compliance with health and safety policies and protocols, and those protocols have been enhanced during the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the differences in programs and facilities across the UC system, each campus will communicate to its faculty, academic appointees, staff, and labor representatives the details of procedures at each UC location. 

Under the proposed policy, UC would require students to show proof that they have received a full dosage of a vaccine, which currently is either one or two shots depending on the type and manufacturer. The University would prefer that students receive their full dosage at least two weeks before arriving on campus, but that is not a requirement in the proposed policy as currently drafted.

What does “vaccinated” mean; does it refer to one or two shots depending on vaccine? Does it include a period of time after the dose for an immune response?

 Under the proposed policy, UC would require students, faculty, academic appointees and staff to show proof that they have received a full dosage of a vaccine, which is either one or two shots depending on the type and manufacturer. The proposed policy is contingent on full approval of a COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and reasonable access to vaccine doses. The University would prefer that students, faculty, academic appointees and staff receive their full dosage at least two weeks before arriving for in-person work at a UC facility, but that is not a requirement in the proposed policy as currently drafted. The COVID-19 vaccines in use, like most vaccines, take time to stimulate an antibody response that creates resistance to illness. Physical distancing, mask-wearing and frequent hand-washing, and cleaning are expected to continue to be crucial for daily campus life.

When does the proposed policy go into effect? 

The proposed policy would begin in the fall 2021 term at each UC campus. Because the dates for the start of fall terms are different across the UC system, each campus will communicate a specific date to fulfill the requirement. UC already strongly encourages students, faculty, academic appointees and staff to voluntarily obtain a vaccination as soon as they are eligible and able to schedule an appointment. The requirement will be mandatory only after full approval of a COVID-19 vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and sufficient availability of vaccines for all students who wish to be vaccinated.

Are medical exemptions or disability or religious accommodations allowed?

 Yes. Medical exemption and religious belief exception requests will be considered, but if approved, may result in alternative safety precautions like increased surveillance testing.

How can students and employees get vaccines? Will UC offer vaccinations? 

UC encourages students, faculty, academic appointees and staff to look for opportunities near their homes to be vaccinated as availability on or near each campus may be limited. Faculty, academic appointees and staff should check the state’s vaccination website at myturn.ca.gov for appointment availability.

Read the full student FAQ here and the full employee FAQ here.