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COVID-19 Booster Requirement

December 17, 2021

To: The Caltech Community
From: Kevin M. Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs
David A. Tirrell, Provost
Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President
Date: December 17, 2021

In an effort to continue to protect the health and well-being of our community—particularly as we respond to the emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant—the Institute will now require all fully vaccinated students and employees to receive a COVID-19 booster shot

  • Students must submit documentation of their booster no later than January 15, 2022, or within 30 days of becoming eligible to receive one. 
  • Employees—including staff, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and visitors—on campus and at off-site facilities, apart from JPL, will be asked to begin submitting documentation of their booster in January. More information on the submission deadline and other details will be shared in January.

COVID-19 booster shots are essential tools to support the health of individuals and the Caltech community. As emerging research shows, the efficacy of two-dose regimens of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines against the Omicron variant are substantially reduced relative to other known variants, such as Delta. The addition of a booster dose improves protection against Omicron, which appears to have led to recent spikes in cases across the country. In particular, several universities and colleges have been compelled to scale back in-person instruction and other campus activities. 

Caltech has strongly recommended that everyone receive booster shots once they are eligible, and hosted two on-campus clinics during fall term. Booster shots will now be a part of our formal vaccination policies. In implementing this requirement, we hope to avoid any uptick in infections that could jeopardize our efforts to maintain full on-campus operations and continue to deliver in-person instruction. We are particularly mindful of potential strains on isolation housing and related campus resources. 

Individuals are eligible for a booster six months after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after the single-dose J&J vaccine. Pursuant to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, those who have been fully vaccinated outside of the U.S. with a vaccine approved under the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL) are eligible for a single booster shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after full vaccination. Most enrolled students and employees are eligible now. We are updating you on this new requirement to provide time to schedule a booster appointment ahead of the start of winter term in January. Students should upload their proof of booster through the Student Health Portal.

Students and employees who have received an approved exemption from COVID-19 vaccination will continue to be exempt from this requirement. 

As a reminder, all students in residence are required to show proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours before arrival to campus after the winter break, and are required to submit two samples per week through the surveillance testing program, beginning January 3, 2022. 

We strongly recommend that any vaccinated employees or graduate students who are not required to test, but who traveled during the winter recess, seek testing through community resources prior to returning to campus. Additionally, members of the campus community are encouraged to enroll in the surveillance testing program, so that any infections can be identified quickly and we can mitigate spread and disruption to the campus and our Pasadena neighbors.

The shared effort to mitigate disease transmission on campus, including adherence to masking, testing, andvaccination requirements, has allowed us to complete a successful fall-term return to in-person instruction and research. We are grateful for the care you have taken to support the health and well-being of all members of our community. With your continued commitment to preventative measures, and the added protection of boosted levels of immunity, we can look forward to another rewarding and engaging term on campus in the new year.