The University of California released a policy proposal for a COVID-19 vaccination program on April 22, which would require all students and faculty to be immunized against COVID-19 in order to access any on-campus facilities this coming fall.
The proposed policy would go into effect once a vaccine has been granted full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to a campus-wide email authored by the UCSB policy coordinator. The decision was made alongside the California State University system and announced in a joint statement.
“In order to protect our students, faculty and staff, it is imperative that as many people get vaccinated as possible. We already have an entry immunization requirement for measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, meningitis and chicken pox,” Ali Javanbakht, UCSB’s Student Health medical director, said in a statement to the Nexus.
By no later than the beginning of Fall Quarter 2021, “All Personnel, Trainees, and Students accessing any University Facility or Program in person in connection with their employment, appointment, or educational program must participate in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program,” the proposed policy stated.
Participation in the program entails receiving information about vaccinations — including the benefits, health risks and understanding how the vaccine works. Individuals must then provide either a receipt of vaccination or qualify for a university-approved “Exception or Medical Exemption” and submit a vaccine declination form according to the policy.
Those with medical exemptions “may require additional compensating controls” including quarantining upon initial campus arrival and undergoing increased surveillance testing. These are in addition to non-pharmaceutical interventions that apply to all campus individuals, such as avoiding large gatherings, wearing personal protective equipment or face coverings and performing routine surveillance testing, the policy read.
Currently, each individual campus will establish local procedures to implement the vaccination policy, and at UCSB, “all vaccine distribution will take place via the third party administrator (TPA) as designated by the state of California,” Javanbakht said.
“This means that Student Health will not be receiving any vaccine to administer. However, that might change as time goes by,” he continued.
Javanbakht said that Student Health’s main role in the vaccination program would be to provide pathways and information for students regarding the process to electronically upload their vaccination documents.
Barring any improbable complications — like a COVID-19 variant that is not responsive to the vaccine — Javanbakht is hopeful that the vaccination policy will help students return to in-person learning as safely as possible.
“Having a fully vaccinated campus certainly puts us in a good position to lessen restrictions and allow for more in person activities including academics, athletic, leisure and social activities,” Javanbakht said.