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COVID-19 Vaccination at Caltech

Updated January 11, 2021

Caltech Vaccination Requirements

All active employees and students are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, including a booster shot, and to have documented their status with the Institute, or to have an approved exemption on file.

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. However, as emerging research shows, the efficacy of two-dose regimens of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines against the Omicron variant are substantially reduced relative to other known variants, such as Delta. The addition of a booster dose improves protection against Omicron.

In August 2021, the Institute implemented mandatory vaccination policies for all students and employees (faculty, staff, and postdoctoral researchers). The policies required that all employees and students on campus and at off-site facilities, apart from JPL, confirmed their full vaccination status, or have an approved exemption, no later than October 15, 2021. The requirement also extends to those employees who work fully off-site or have a hybrid working arrangement. On December 17, the Institute announced that it would also require all fully vaccinated students and employees to receive a COVID-19 booster shot. Students must submit documentation of their booster no later than January 15, 2022, or within 30 days of becoming eligible to receive one. Employees on campus and at off-site facilities (apart from JPL) will be asked to begin submitting documentation of their booster in January.

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.

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.

Beyond Campus

For proof of vaccination for use off of campus, please visit the California Department of Public Health's Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record portal. After entering some details, you will receive a link to a QR code and digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccination record. If you want to share your proof of vaccination, you can use either the electronic version you'll get from the portal or the card you were given at time of vaccination.