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COVID-19 Vaccination at Caltech

Updated August 26, 2021

Caltech Vaccination Requirements

All employees and students are required to document proof of full vaccination (or an approved exemption) no later than October 15, 2021.

Vaccinations—along with continued compliance with the Institute's face mask, health screening, and surveillance testing requirements—have become central to Caltech's pandemic response efforts. 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.

As such, the Institute has implemented mandatory vaccination policies for all students and employees (faculty, staff, and postdoctoral researchers). The policies require that all employees 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 also extends to those employees who work fully off-site or have a hybrid working arrangement.

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.

Individuals with an approved exemption may be subject to regular testing or other preventative measures necessary to protect the health and well-being of the community.

For more information on the Institute's approach to vaccines or its requirements, please see the please see the Vaccination FAQ page. This page will be updated as the situation evolves.

Vaccine eligibility

All individuals age 12 years or over are now eligible to be vaccinated.

Vaccine safety and efficacy

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.

None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines (nor the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States) contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, meaning that you cannot contract COVID-19 from a vaccination.

Pamela Bjorkman, Caltech's David Baltimore Professor of Biology and Bioengineering, explained more about how vaccines work and why in her January 11 conversation with the Caltech community.

Where to get the vaccine

Vaccination appointments are available through state and county resources, as well as via local pharmacies and private healthcare providers.

No matter where you are vaccinated, please retain your vaccine record and document your vaccination status via the Caltech COVID-19 Reporting Application.

Vaccination and surveillance testing

As of June 1, 2021, individuals who have submitted proof of full vaccination no longer need to participate in the Institute's surveillance testing program when they report to campus.

Any member of the campus community who reports to campus or the Institute's off-site facilities, but remains unvaccinated with an exemption approved by Human Resources or Student Wellness Services, must continue to participate in surveillance testing.

Please note that our adjustment of surveillance testing requirements for fully vaccinated individuals does not change the Institute's policy regarding testing symptomatic or exposed individuals. Any member of the community who is experiencing COVID-like symptoms should promptly report their illness through the Caltech COVID-19 Reporting Application and may access testing resources through Student Wellness Services.

Submitting vaccination documentation to Caltech

The Institute's web-based COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation application enables staff, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and affiliates who have been fully vaccinated to submit proof of vaccination. The tool is accessible to anyone with access.caltech credentials. Undergraduate and graduate students can submit their proof of vaccination through the Student Wellness Services Student Health Portal. Both options provide a secure and confidential portal for uploading vaccination card photos or other documents that demonstrate COVID-19 immunization. Accepted file types are JPEG, JPG, PDF, and PNG. Maximum file size is 10 MB. If you have trouble uploading, check the extension on your file as well as the size. 

Human Resources and Student Wellness Services will review and validate submitted documents. A scannable QR code will be sent to each person whose vaccination documents have been approved. Most individuals will receive an email with their QR code within 24 hours. However, depending on the volume of documentation SWS receives during a given week, it may take up to five business days to receive the QR code. If more than five business days have gone by without receiving your QR code, please email covid19@caltech.edu for assistance.

This QR code may be presented, as needed, at on-campus events and gatherings that require attendees to be fully vaccinated, as well as for clearance from regular testing requirements or Institute-sponsored travel restrictions. It may be helpful to take a screenshot of the code with your smartphone to make it easier to present the image when it is requested.

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