Lauren Muttram, May 4, 2021
The California State University and University of California systems announced in a press release on April 22 that they will require COVID-19 immunizations for all students, faculty and staff returning to campus this fall.
With the intention of maintaining the health and safety of those returning to Cal Poly Pomona and other campuses, the requirement will become effective upon full Food and Drug Administration approval of the vaccine brands currently being distributed with emergency authorization, or if they are not yet approved, at the beginning of the fall semester.
“I think what is really great about this requirement is that it actually does recognize the effectiveness of the vaccine and really what it has done to flatten the curve and make California have the lowest positivity rate in the nation,” said Francis Teves, assistant vice president for the Office of Government and External Affairs and lead of the Safer Return Task Force.
Teves explained the vaccine requirement is merely one aspect of the multipronged risk mitigation strategy planned for fall 2021.
Prior to returning to campus, students and employees of CPP will be required to complete a training and safety pledge demonstrating the appropriate safety precautions that will be implemented at the university.
The campus will also employ routine testing and face coverings will be required.
“Training and education is a critical component in making sure students, faculty and staff and anyone coming to our campus understands how COVID works and how to slow it down,” said Teves.
Despite the new requirement, Kaiser Permanente will be closing its vaccination hub located in Parking Structure 2 on May 8.
Associate Vice President for Student Health & Wellbeing Leticia Gutierrez-Lopez, a member of the Safer Return Task Force, explained students are able to volunteer records of their COVID-19 vaccination to Student Health Services.
Providing vaccination records allows the university to establish who has already received the vaccination and — alongside official COVID-19 vaccination cards — is a way for individuals to document their vaccine.
Despite the climbing population of vaccinated individuals, some students still have reservations about returning to campus this fall.
Third-year mechanical engineering student Chris Parlapiano agrees with the decision to mandate vaccinations but believes in-person instruction is starting too soon.
“Putting students on campus with or without a vaccine is inherently dangerous as we still do not know what the vaccines are capable of doing,” said Parlapiano. “The vaccines’ approval by the FDA does not correlate to a 100% safe medicine or immunity to dissimilar strains.”
While awaiting FDA approval, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are being dispersed through emergency use authorization. After reports of rare blood clots following the Johnson & Johnson immunization, the vaccine is again being distributed for emergency use.
Third-year apparel merchandising and management student Alexa Oliva expected COVID immunizations to be mandated when returning to campus and trusts the vaccinations have the potential to generate a sense of normalcy.
“I believe that Cal State universities have the authority to require vaccinations because it is also their duty to keep everyone safe,” said Oliva. “I think this is a step into making things go back to how they were.”
The COVID-19 vaccination requirement will additionally allow for students and employees to request an exemption from the requisite grounded on medical or religious purposes.
Official regulations and COVID-19 immunization requirements have yet to be determined at CPP.
Gutierrez-Lopez believes the mitigation strategy planned for fall 2021 is a positive action for CPP and a step toward a safer return.
“If we are following all these measures and we know that a certain percentage of our population is vaccinated, I think it will allow for a safe return to campus,” said Gutierrez-Lopez.
For the latest campus updates concerning COVID-19, visit https://www.cpp.edu/safer-return/messages-to-the-community/index.shtml.
Feature photo Lauren Muttram | The Poly Post
Corrections made May 5, 11:45 a.m.:
- CPP does not run the vaccine hub, but rather Kaiser Permanente does and makes all decisions regarding its operations.
- Faculty cannot utilize the Student Health Services center to record their vaccination status.
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