California State University, the nation’s largest four-year public university system, announced Wednesday that it is requiring all students and staff to get COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for the spring semester amid concerns over the omicron variant.
The announcement follows the University of California system on Tuesday placing a similar mandate for students and staff across its campuses after winter break.
Students and employees at CSU’s 23 campuses will have to get their boosters by Feb. 28, 2022, or six months after a person got their final dose of the original vaccination, whichever is later.
Individual campuses can still end up setting earlier deadlines for getting the boosters, based on local conditions, CSU officials said.
“Vaccination, including a booster when eligible, remains our most effective strategy against infection and severe disease,” CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said in a statement. “This is particularly important in light of the rapid rise of cases of COVID-19 throughout the state and nation as the Omicron variant spreads. Implementing the booster requirement now will help mitigate the potential spread of the variant on campuses as they repopulate in January after the winter break.”
CSU’s vaccination policy allows students and employees to seek exemptions based on medical and religious reasons.
“Represented employees will not be subject to the booster requirement until the CSU concludes its meet-and-confer process with its labor unions,” the university system said.
UC asked its schools to consider switching to remote learning after the winter break, with UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz and UC San Diego already announcing a two-week delay to in-person classes.
USC also announced last week that it is considering a remote start to the spring semester, and that it will likely require booster shots.
It’s unclear whether CSU would also consider a temporary shift to remote learning.
The mandates for university students come as California is poised to face another winter COVID-19 surge, with new infections and hospitalization numbers already rising.
Adding to concerns is omicron, which is increasingly being detected throughout the state.
Los Angeles County’s health department has confirmed a total of 102 cases or the worrisome new variant, after reporting a whopping 60 new cases on Monday.