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COVID-19 Vaccination at Caltech

Updated May 18, 2021

The Institute has launched a web-based COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation application where staff, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and affiliates who have been vaccinated and desire to take advantage of updated protocols based on vaccination status may submit proof of vaccination. The tool is accessible to anyone with access.caltech credentials. It provides a secure and confidential portal for uploading vaccination card photos or other documents that demonstrate COVID-19 immunization.

Vaccinations are a critical, life-saving tool and—along with continued compliance with the Institute's face covering, physical distancing, and surveillance testing requirements—have become central to Caltech's pandemic response efforts.

Once the FDA approves the COVID-19 vaccines, the Institute expects to require faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholars who are employed at campus or one of Caltech's offsite locations, as well as undergraduates and graduate students enrolled in the fall 2021 term to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For campus affiliates and visiting researchers who regularly access Institute facilities and work closely with Caltech employees, proof of full vaccination will be a condition of access to campus.

When fully in effect, the vaccination requirement will allow for medical exemptions for students, and medical and religious exemptions for employees. Individuals with an approved exemption, however, may be subject to regular testing or other preventative measures necessary to protect the health and well-being of the community.

The Institute's Student Vaccination Policy, effective April 30, 2021, is available online. More information on the Institute's employee policy and the process relating to eligible exemptions and accommodations will be distributed this summer.

Eligibility

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

Vaccine safety and efficacy

Vaccines are powerful and effective tools for preventing and slowing the spread of disease.

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. Clinical trials suggest that the three currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalizations, and deaths.

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 may also be 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 so that you will be able to provide documentation if needed. As members of the community receive their vaccinations, Caltech also ask individuals to record their vaccination status via the Caltech COVID-19 Reporting Application; this information will inform planning for a campus clinic.

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. This change in testing requirements applies to all fully vaccinated staff, faculty, postdocs, students, and affiliates. However, individuals may not voluntarily remove themselves from the surveillance testing program; an individual's fully vaccinated status must be confirmed through the Institute's COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation application. All members of the community who have been vaccinated fully should upload their documentation in the application and confirm their vaccination status at their earliest opportunity.

Any member of the campus community who reports to campus, even on an occasional or one-day-a-week basis, but who has not submitted proof of vaccination 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 for 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.

Campus Access and Activities

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a growing body of evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection or transmit SARS-CoV-2 to others. For that reason, public health agencies now explicitly consider vaccination status of individuals and community groups when they issue guidance for work practice and event. Caltech has updated its policies around access to campus, Institute-sponsored travel, and events and gatherings to reflect this practice. In addition, fully vaccinated individuals are now allowed to remove their face coverings in open, outdoor campus settings. Caltech continues to require that everyone properly wear a face covering at all times when indoors.

For more information, please see the Vaccination FAQ page. This page will be updated as we continue to get new information.

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 vaccinated to submit proof of vaccination. The tool is accessible to anyone with access.caltech credentials. It provides a secure and confidential portal for uploading vaccination card photos or other documents that demonstrate COVID-19 immunization.

Colleagues in 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. 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.