South Bay students support university system’s COVID vax requirement
Students study at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library at San Jose State University in this file photo.

Some South Bay college students have no qualms about getting a COVID-19 shot before being allowed back on campus, they told San Jose Spotlight.

“All my friends are trying to get vaccinated before heading off to college for safety and convenience,” said Nolan Jeung, a San Jose student who will attend California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo this fall.

Weeks after officials announced students returning to University of California or California State University must be vaccinated, the CSU system’s student government voted unanimously Saturday to support the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

CSU Student Association President Zahraa Khuraibet said vaccinations will ensure everyone can return to something of a new normal.

“I am really happy to see our board move forward and adopt this recommendation,” Khuraibet said. “It’s important that we prioritize the health and safety of the CSU students and community, especially with a plan to return to in-person instruction.”

Three upper level education systems will require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before coming back to school this fall. The requirement is dependent on pending approval of at least one COVID vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which currently authorizes vaccines under emergency use authorization.

Exemptions for medical and religious reasons will be allowed.

Jeung said people should do “what’s best for public health.” His mother, Winnie, said she’s relieved the university believes in the science behind the vaccines and that students will be able to return to in-person learning safely.

“I hope the students and families are diligent and take it seriously,” she said. “It’s for the betterment of all the students overall and one less thing to hinder their educational experience.”

Nolan Jeung, who will attend Cal Poly SLO in the fall, said his friends are trying to get vaccinated before heading off to college for safety and convenience. Photo courtesy of the Jeung family.

CSU spokesperson Michael Uhlenkamp said feedback on requiring COVID vaccination is mixed.

“There are some that are relieved and feel an additional sense of safety,” he said. “And there are some that question the announcement. Having greater numbers of people vaccinated against COVID-19 will assist campus repopulation efforts for the fall 2021 term.”

UC President Michael Drake implored the community to get inoculated and said it’s a key step for students to protect themselves, their friends and family and the campus community.

Jillian March, who will attend UC Davis in the fall, wants to be vaccinated before attending school in-person for her own peace of mind.

“I think in terms of public health and safety, it’s best for all students who intend on going back in-person to be fully vaccinated,” said March, a senior at Santa Teresa High School. “Not only is the college experience going to be lacking if I’m not fully in person, but my education is going to take a hit as well.”

March’s grades suffered last year during distance learning and she missed interacting with other students. She said people who can get inoculated and don’t are not doing everything in their power to prevent others from getting sick.

“I know people in my immediate friend group who would not go back if people aren’t fully vaccinated,” she said. “One friend—both of her parents have asthma and her grandmother is a cancer survivor—would try to get as many accommodations as possible if vaccines aren’t mandatory.”

Jillian March, who will attend UC Davis in the fall, said people who are able to get the COVID vaccine and don’t are not doing everything in their power to prevent others from getting the virus. Photo courtesy of the March family.

Persis Drell, provost of Stanford University, said student vaccination is necessary to support health and safety on campus.

Aidan Arasasingham, president of the UC Student Association, said the group welcomes UC’s intent to require vaccines. The UC Student Association has not yet voted on the plan, and expects to release its position later this month. 

“Broad immunity is an important factor needed to ensure the in-person, on-campus experience that UC students have been longing for,” he said. “This vaccination requirement will reopen classroom learning while protecting student and community health.”

Though the association is encouraging students to get vaccinated in their local communities, Arasasingham said it’s also pushing the UC system to guarantee free COVID-19 vaccinations at on-campus health centers for returning students who have not received a vaccine.

The UC Student Association is also advocating for online classes for students who can’t afford to return to school after the pandemic.

“Families are still struggling with income loss, vaccine access and additional pandemic burdens,” Arasasingham said. “For students unable to return to campus, we are pushing for UC to ensure continued online access to courses so students can continue to study and succeed.”

Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]

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