California State Universities will now require all faculty, staff and students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus for the fall semester.
The CSU announced the requirement on Tuesday without waiting for any further action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Medical and religious exemptions will be allowed for unvaccinated students, but they will be required to receive regular coronavirus testing throughout the semester.
According to an email sent by Cal State Fullerton President Fram Virjee to CSUF staff, the policy is effective immediately with the expectation that all university community members returning to campus will have received their first vaccination dose by Aug. 17, which marks the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year.
The Chancellor’s Office imposed a deadline of Sept. 30 for all faculty, staff and student to be fully vaccinated — if the first dose of the vaccine is received by Aug. 17, the Sept. 30 deadline will be met. Fully vaccinated means at least two weeks have passed after the final dose has been given.
In April, the CSU announced it would join the University of California system in requiring all staff, faculty and students who access facilities at any campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Both the CSUs and UCs were waiting to require vaccines either at the beginning of the 2021 fall semester or when the FDA granted full approval of the vaccine.
The UCs recently announced it would implement the vaccine requirement at the beginning of the fall semester without waiting on the FDA.
Virjee said that the CSU Office of the Chancellor made a similar announcement, stating that "all CSU faculty, staff, and students must either be fully immunized or receive an approved exemption before returning to any campus facility at any university location — even if the FDA has not yet changed the status of the vaccines from Emergency Use Authorization to full approval."
The vaccination policy has been accelerated due to a growing number of emerging variants and the safety of the vaccine in preventing the spread of the disease and reducing serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths, Virjee said.
Virjee said that in March he urged every campus member to get vaccinated, while it still was not required, CSUF, California and the United States as a whole have reached the goal of widespread vaccinations.
In March, Virjee said that if they did not reach their goal of widespread vaccinations with the campus community, the university would have to adjust its in-person transition plans.
"The acceleration of our systemwide vaccination policy is also just the right and responsible thing to do," Virjee said. "Titan students signed up for classes, and faculty and staff made plans to return to campus to teach and work based upon an expectation that our classrooms and communities would be safe and all Titans would be vaccinated."
The CSU website states that campuses are expected to have a more expansive offering of virtual courses compared to before the pandemic for students who wish to continue their studies but do not want to visit the campus in person.
Virjee said that a detailed policy issued by the CSU will be available in the coming days, but faculty, staff and students can access the Chancellor's Office press release on the CSU website.