Now that California has fully reopened, many organizations are grappling with whether to mandate vaccines for workers, students and visitors.
The University of California school system announced this week it would require all employees and students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus this fall.
The decision is a reversal of an April announcement in which the UC system stated it would require vaccination only after the FDA gave full approval to at least one COVID vaccine. Currently, all of the coronavirus vaccines in the U.S. are being administered under emergency-use authorizations; none have yet been given full approval.
The UC San Diego students and staff members whom NBC 7 spoke with on Wednesday all voiced strong support for the new policy.
“I feel that this is very important to, like, open up the campus,” assistant research scientist Richa Karmakar said.
“We have a big international student population, so when we’re all coming from around the country and even around the world, it at least makes us feel safer living here every day and knowing that when we go to class with hundreds of other students, we’re not as much at risk,” student Michael Tesis said.
“I definitely think that it works, and it’s a really great way for us to reach herd immunity without students getting sick,” student Alison Washburn said.
Washburn is vaccinated but said she has friends who are not and feel anxiety over having to get the shot.
“They’re really scared," Washburn said. "They’re anxious about it, and I think that’s where our campus support needs to come in and like, aid and support them in that."
People who are exempt for medical or religious reasons will have to wear a mask in public on campus and get tested.
Employees who choose not to get vaccinated could face disciplinary action, but the school hasn’t said what that could be.
San Clamente High School senior Jack Smith, who was taking a tour of campus with his parents on Wednesday, said he liked the vaccine requirement. NBC 7 asked him if the new policy would affect his decision on whether to attend UCSD.
“It’s their job to make sure all the students going here are safe and no one’s contracting the virus, 'cause that would just be kind of a rough deal on their end, so I don’t blame ‘em,” Smith said. “I would still come here even though they would force students to get the vaccine,”
To make it easier for students, vaccinations will be provided on campus.
The school said everyone is expected to comply two weeks before returning to campus this fall. The school is expected to release the final form of its policy by July 15.
California State University officials said on Wednesday that it's planning to implement a vaccine requirement pending full FDA approval, but that things could change.