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COVID-19 Vaccine Mandatory for All Students and Employees

August 16, 2021

To: The Caltech Community
From: Kevin M. Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs
David A. Tirrell, Provost
Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President
Date: August 16, 2021
Re: COVID-19 Vaccine Mandatory for All Students and Employees

As the highly-transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant continues to spread across the country and the related hospitalization of unvaccinated individuals rises, Caltech will mandate full COVID-19 vaccination for employees and students and will restrict access to indoor campus spaces to vaccinated individuals only.

The Institute's new vaccination policies require that all faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers, and students on campus and at off-site facilities, apart from JPL, confirm their full vaccination status, or have an approved exemption, no later than October 15, 2021. 

This requirement extends to all employees, including those who work fully off-site or have a hybrid working arrangement and supplants previous communications. This requirement also supplants the original Student Immunization Policy, which allowed for enrolled students to submit a COVID-19 personal declination form in lieu of a medical exemption. 

We write now to ensure that those individuals who have not yet been vaccinated or confirmed their status with the Institute have time to complete a full vaccination regimen by the October deadline. Employees who have not documented their full vaccination status or received an approved exemption by October 15 may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment. Students who have not documented their full vaccination status or received an approved exemption by October 15 may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including loss of enrollment as a student at Caltech. 

As of Monday, October 18, the Institute will limit access to all indoor campus spaces to individuals with proof of full vaccination or an approved exemption. This means that all individuals, including visitors, who are eligible to receive the vaccine (i.e., everyone 12 years old or older and those without an approved exemption) must be prepared to show proof of vaccination when entering any indoor campus space. This requirement will be in effect at indoor athletic facilities; dining facilities; undergraduate and graduate student housing; research, academic, and administrative spaces; as well as auditoriums and lecture halls used for public events and engagements. The process to verify proof of vaccination or approved exemption for indoor access may vary by location, but will be clearly communicated at entrances and on the Caltech Together website

The Institute's new vaccine requirements will be enforced independent of FDA approval for any vaccine. The decision to implement these changes in advance of FDA approval reflects growing concern for the aggressive spread of the Delta variant and reinforces our collective responsibility to protect the health and well-being of everyone in our community, especially those who are otherwise not able to protect themselves. Research and extensive clinical experience have demonstrated that the COVID-19 vaccines are among the most effective means of controlling the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and limiting the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. 

For the foreseeable future, any member of the Caltech community who has not officially documented their full vaccination status (defined as two weeks post their final vaccine dose) must continue to follow all Institute protocols and procedures for unvaccinated individuals. Current protocols include participation in the Institute's surveillance testing program and the use of face coverings indoors (currently mandated for everyone on campus).

Employees with questions about the vaccination policy should contact Human Resources: information on medical exemptions is available through the Disability and Leave Unit ([email protected]); and information on religious exemptions is available through the Employee and Organizational Development unit ([email protected]). Students should direct their questions to Student Wellness Services by sending a secure message through the Student Health Portal.