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COVID-19 Vaccination at Caltech

Updated March 1, 2021

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

The Institute strongly encourages all members of the Caltech community, particularly those in higher-risk groups, to receive a vaccination at their earliest point of eligibility.

Caltech has been approved by the State of California as an authorized community-based partner. With this approval, the Institute is now eligible to request allocation of vaccines to administer to members of the campus community.

It is not yet clear how many doses we can expect to receive, when we will receive them, or which of the two vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be available to campus. Thus far, efforts by the state, county, and city to allocate vaccines have been challenged by limitations in supply, with demand from an expanding group of eligible recipients outpacing available doses.

The Institute endeavors to establish a clinic on campus where members of the Caltech community can, in prioritized groups determined by local public health officials, receive their vaccinations. Caltech is contracting with third-party providers who will administer the vaccines on the Institute's behalf. As information is available on timing, location, and access to such a clinic, the Institute will update the community.

Strategically guiding the Institute's vaccine planning efforts is a Vaccine Working Group, chaired by Deputy General Counsel Steve Atlee, that was convened in December. This group meets weekly and will be providing regular updates on the Institute's efforts going forward.

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 on campus

Caltech does not currently have a clinic open to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.

In the meantime, the Institute strongly encourages everyone—particularly those in higher-risk groups—to seek out vaccination through their primary care physician at their earliest point of eligibility.

No matter where you are vaccinated, please retain your vaccine record so that you will be able to certify your inoculations if and when requested. Please note that both currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines require a second dose within a specified period of time in order to be effective at preventing the disease.

Vaccination and surveillance testing

At this time, surveillance testing will continue for all individuals reporting to campus on a regular or one-off basis, whether or not they are vaccinated. Vaccination will not cause individuals to return false-positive results on the COVID-19 tests being used at Caltech. If you have received a vaccination and have been participating in surveillance testing, you should continue to undergo testing as usual. You should also continue to use the Caltech COVID-19 Reporting application on the days you are scheduled to be on campus.

At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still does not know whether vaccination has any impact on an individual's ability to transmit COVID-19. For that reason, we ask that all campus community members continue to practice physical distancing, appropriate hygiene, and mask wearing, even after vaccination.

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