CSU announces fall vaccine requirement, pending complete FDA approval

The CSU announced plans for a vaccine requirement, as long as one of the available vaccines becomes fully approved by the FDA.

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The CSU announced plans for a vaccine requirement, as long as one of the available vaccines becomes fully approved by the FDA.

Anneliese Esparza, Editor-in-Chief

To watch a video version of this story, click here.

The CSU system announced in an April 22 press release that faculty, staff and students accessing campus locations will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The requirement is under the condition that at least one of the available vaccines is granted complete approval by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and that there is an adequate supply for everyone to get vaccinated. The requirement will go into effect at the start of the fall 2021 semester or when the vaccine receives full FDA approval, whichever comes later.

Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines were granted emergency authorization and are currently in the Phase 3 Efficacy Trials. It is unclear exactly when either the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna vaccine will be granted full FDA approval.

There will be exemptions for people who don’t want to take the vaccine because of medical or religious reasons, according to the press release. Specific policies on who is eligible for an exemption, and how to apply for one, have not yet been announced.

CSUSM chief communications officer Margaret Chantung said that the university will give more information on the implementation of the new vaccine requirement as soon as it can. 

“The California State University Chancellor’s Office is in consultation about changes to the CSU’s existing immunization requirements with the California State Student Association, CSU Academic Senate and labor unions. When these consultations have concluded and the policy and related implementation details are updated and available, we will have more information,” Chantung said in an email to The Cougar Chronicle.

… [G]etting vaccinated is “the best way to control the pandemic and save lives.

— Christina Holub, interim director of CSUSM's public health program

Christina Holub, interim director of CSUSM’s public health master’s program, told The Cougar Chronicle over email that getting people vaccinated is “the best way to control the pandemic and save lives.”

“I urge our students, staff, and faculty to get an authorized COVID-19 vaccine. I’ve also joined an open letter to our California university communities from other directors of public health programs across California, with that same message,” wrote Holub.

While Holub said she understands people’s hesitancy on the vaccines, she believes that vaccines’ benefits outweigh any potential risks. “Whether for emergency use or with full FDA approval, the scientific rigor that goes into reviewing vaccinations is strong and makes it safe … from a public health view, I agree that if the CSU and UC community of over a million people are vaccinated, we would be doing our part in protecting individuals, families and both local and global communities,” she wrote.

Some students expressed agreement with the decision on social media, including fourth-year criminology major and psychology minor Alexandra Aguilar. 

I am very happy the school is promoting a safe environment for students by requiring vaccines.

— Alexandra Aguilar, CSUSM student

“I am very happy the school is promoting a safe environment for students by requiring vaccines. I strongly support this decision!! It’s a win for science,” wrote Aguilar in response to a post by The Cougar Chronicle in the CSUSM Students Facebook group.

Fourth-year literature & writing major Bailey Heffernan expressed similar sentiments in a comment to the same Facebook post. 

“It’s a selfless act of kindness to get your vaccine and stop the spread in our community. It’s not a microchip, it won’t kill you, and it certainly hasn’t had very many harmful side effects. The mandate makes me feel safer being on campus,” she wrote.

Another student, fourth-year liberal studies major Kimberly Palmer, felt that CSUSM should have made it clearer that there is the possibility of an exemption. 

“It’s nice to know we can become exempt for getting it, but at first thought of it being made mandatory did not sound right. It’s like religious discrimination like making everyone conform in order to attend. I don’t like the way they went about and should definitely make the guidelines clearer,” wrote Palmer on the Facebook post. (CSUSM made no mention of any exemptions in their April 22 email notifying students of the requirement.)

A parent of a CSUSM student, Victoria Bryant, took issue with CSUSM not having all classes in-person in the fall despite the new vaccine requirement. “I would be fine with the vaccine requirement if it meant that all classes would be offered in person. But I’m not okay with being required to get the vaccine and then only some of the classes are offered in person,” commented Bryant under the post. 

CSUSM will have slightly more fall classes offered in-person or hybrid than online. (Percentages are from CSUSM chief communications officer Margaret Chantung and have been rounded up.) (Pie chart made on Microsoft Word)

CSUSM is offering three modalities for fall 2021 classes: in-person, online and hybrid. According to chief communications officer Margaret Chantung, 53 percent of CSUSM’s fall classes are either in-person or hybrid and 44 percent are online (either synchronous or asynchronous). Chantung said that this year, as in other years, department chairs developed class schedules with collaboration from faculty members.

To read the complete CSU press release on the vaccine requirement, click here. To stay updated with CSUSM’s latest updates during COVID-19, go to their CSUSM as One page

Anneliese Esparza is a senior literature and writing studies major serving as The Cougar Chronicle’s Editor-in-Chief. She also freelances for local publications.  After graduation, she hopes to become a reporter (and eventually an editor) for a mid-size local newspaper. In her free time, Anneliese enjoys playing piano, reading, spending time with her family and hanging out with her three cats. Twitter handle: @a__esparza