The University of California will require all students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to return to campus for the fall term, the university announced Thursday.

The policy requires vaccinations “for all individuals learning, working and living at UC locations this fall, and participating in person in UC programs that may occur off-site, such as UC athletics programs or study abroad, with limited exceptions, accommodations and deferrals.”

The policy announced Thursday is a shift from April, when the university said it would require vaccinations only when at least one of the vaccines receives “full approval” from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The vaccines currently in use are being administered only on an “emergency use” basis.

According to the university, the new policy “incorporates input from UC infectious disease experts who reviewed the evidence from medical studies, which have found the vaccines to be safe and effective for preventing infection, hospitalizations and deaths, and for reducing the spread of this deadly disease.”

“The UC policy reflects our proactive response to the seriousness of a disease that has killed more than 600,000 people in the United States alone as well as to the rise of variants that are more easily transmitted and make widespread vaccination more important than ever,” according to the UC. “The final policy results from a several-month consultation period with the UC community, including faculty and student health physician directors, that revealed their strong support for moving forward with a COVID-19 vaccination requirement now.”

The Long Beach-based California State University system has not yet imposed a vaccination mandate for the fall. The CSU also announced in April that it will require vaccinations only when a vaccine receives “full approval” from the FDA.

UC officials said vaccination is “a critical step toward protecting the health and safety of the UC community and the public at large but also for ending the worldwide pandemic.”

“For the University of California, a public research university with more than 280,000 students and more than 227,000 faculty and staff at locations throughout California, the UC policy requiring COVID-19 vaccination is vital for return to in-person activities this fall,” according to the university.

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