UC, CSU plan to require COVID vaccines, pending final FDA approval

The California State University and University of California systems jointly announced Thursday that they intend to require all students, faculty and staff returning for on-campus classes and activities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The requirement, however, would not take effect until one or more of the COVID vaccines receives "full approval'' from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Current vaccines are being administered under emergency-use authorizations from the FDA.

The universities' planned vaccination requirement will take effect upon "full approval'' occurring or the beginning of the fall semester, whichever is later.

Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna are both in what is known as Phase 3 Efficacy Trials and could apply to the FDA for full approval of the vaccines at any time.

RELATED: California public schools see ‘sharp decline’ in enrollment

CSU and UC officials said the planned requirement will be discussed with faculty and student representatives, along with labor groups. But they opted to announce the planned requirement Thursday so all members of the campus community can start arranging to get vaccinated before the fall term begins.

Both university systems are expected to allow for exemptions based on medical or religious grounds.

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"Together, the CSU and UC enroll and employ more than 1 million students and employees across 33 major university campuses, so this is the most comprehensive and consequential university plan for COVID-19 vaccines in the country,'' CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said in a statement.

"Consistent with previous CSU announcements related to the university's response to the pandemic, we are sharing this information now to give students, their families and our employees ample time to make plans to be vaccinated prior to the start of the fall term.''

UC President Michael V. Drake added, "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.''

Assistant Professor for California State University Northridge, Dr. Nyssa Silbiger, is on board with the announcement.

"I was pleased to see that the universities are taking this very seriously and are trying their best to come back to in-person learning so we can educate our students in the best way possible. Those that are physically able to get vaccinated, have access to vaccinations and not precluded by any medical or religious beliefs, I think should be vaccinated," she said.

Silbiger believes it's important to make sure students, staff and faculty have access to vaccinations too.  

"The biggest concern I have is making sure there's actually equal access to faculty and staff to get vaccinated so as long as the state of California is making it possible for everyone to have equal access to vaccines then I think that it's a great plan," said Silbiger.

Jun Hwang, a graduate student at California State University Northridge, believes it's a good idea too.

"For everybody's safety, I think it's necessary for sure. I already got the first dose and am looking forward to getting the second dose. Hopefully, everybody's getting it," he said.

Dr. Juan A. Silva, a family physician for California Medical Center, is a strong supporter of the announcement from California State University and the University of California. 

"I think it's a good beginning because we know that the greatest percentage of people being infected with COVID-19 is that age group 18 to 34 in California," said Silva.

Silva said the vaccinations are safe for students.

"It's a very safe vaccine. It can save lives and really impact people in a positive way and hopefully very soon we can say that we won this pandemic and it all begins with prevention and also vaccinations," said Silva.

Silva believes it's likely other institutions will follow suit.  

"We're hearing from other states that eventually they will require that [vaccination against Covid-19]. We may even see it in possibly the public school systems or private school systems in K-12 as well. We see that over time history has proven that vaccination is one way to get us out of a pandemic," said Silva. 

FOX 11's Koco McAboy contributed to this report.