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Vaccination FAQ

Updated April 15, 2021

General Questions

The Institute does not currently have a vaccine requirement, but it does strongly encourage all members of the Caltech community to receive the vaccine at their earliest point of eligibility. Vaccinations are a critical, life-saving tool and—along with continued compliance with the Institute's face covering, physical distancing, and surveillance testing requirements—are central to the Institute's pandemic response efforts. Taken together, these measures will protect the health of our community and support the earliest possible resumption of traditional operations. 

As the vaccine becomes widely available, it will be important for us to achieve widespread vaccination of our community and to understand the extent to which that goal has been accomplished. To that end, any member of the community who receives a vaccine, whether from Caltech or another provider, should retain their vaccine record to certify their inoculation if and when requested.

A vaccination cannot give you COVID-19, since none of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.

The vaccines may have some side effects, including soreness in the arm that receives the injection as well as fever, chills, tiredness, or headache. These side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus, and should go away after a few days. You should call a doctor if you appear to be having a severe allergic reaction after receiving the vaccine. More information about potential side effects can be found on the CDC's website.

We encourage all members of the community to familiarize themselves with facts about the COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, more information about vaccines in general can be found on the Caltech Science Exchange.

Caltech's plan for returning additional students and staff to campus hinges on guidance from local and state public health officials. As that guidance is updated through the coming year, we will adjust our plans accordingly.

Caltech is legally required to operate in accordance with regional and state health orders. The current protocols in the city of Pasadena restrict campus operations to the current level of activity, regardless of individuals vaccination status.

Yes. We are asking that all members of the community continue to adhere with all preventative measures and protocols that have been implemented—including participation in surveillance testing, wearing a face covering, maintaining physical distance, and washing hands frequently—regardless of whether they have received a vaccination or not. Compliance with all of these preventative measures is essential to curbing the spread of disease and to resuming more traditional operations.

As the Vaccine Working Group continues to plan for dedicated clinics for campus community members, a better understanding of the Caltech community's vaccination status will help us assess continuing need and interest in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Caltech students, faculty, postdocs, and staff members should update their vaccination progress, attest to future vaccination plans, or indicate that they have no current plans to be vaccinated through the web-based COVID-19 Reporting Application. All individuals are required to update their record by no later than April 23. A 100 percent vaccination-status response rate is essential to the Institute's continued pandemic planning and response efforts.

Log into the COVID-19 Reporting app using your access.caltech credentials.

  • At the top is a green box labeled "My COVID-19 Vaccination Status" with three options listed to the right.
    • If you have not yet been vaccinated or made an appointment for vaccination elsewhere:select either "I am interested in being vaccinated at Caltech" or "No plans at this time."
    • If you have been vaccinated: select "I have been vaccinated."
      • You will be prompted from drop-down menus to indicate which vaccine you received and the date(s) on which you received it.
      • If you have received only the first of two doses (Pfizer or Moderna), select the date for "Dose 1" and leave "Dose 2" blank for now. You can return to the tool to update your record after you receive your second dose.
  • You can change your vaccination status at any time by logging into the COVID-19 Reporting Application and clicking the "Change" button on the far-right side of the "My COVID-19 Vaccination Status" box.

According to the CDC, common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine can include fever, chills, and nausea. If you are experiencing these symptoms within 48 hours of receiving a dose of the vaccine, you DO NOT need to make a report via the COVID-19 Reporting Application UNLESS you have either been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or your symptoms feel too severe for you to report to work.

If you are too sick to report to work after receiving the vaccine, you will be referred to the Disability & Leave Administration Unit (DLAU) for assistance with timekeeping.

According to the CDC, people are considered fully vaccinated:

  • Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine

If it has been less than two weeks since your one-dose shot, or if you still need to get your second dose of a two-dose vaccine, you are not fully protected. Keep taking all prevention steps until you are fully vaccinated.

On-Campus Vaccinations

There are two upcoming first-dose Moderna vaccine clinics that Caltech will be offering in partnership with Vons Pharmacy. Links for making an appointment at the first of two clinics, scheduled for Friday, April 30, will be emailed to all community members on Friday, April 16. A registration link for a Friday, May 7 clinic will be shared at a later date.

No. The vaccine will be offered free of charge to those who are eligible to receive it.

Faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers, and students who are currently employed or enrolled in classes at Caltech will be eligible to receive the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for individuals age 16 and over, and the Moderna vaccine is approved for individuals age 18 and over. At this time, the Institute does not yet have the capacity to distribute the vaccine to family members of those in the Caltech community. More details will be provided as they become available.

Yes, if you are eligible to receive the vaccine in accordance with public health's distribution phases and tiers.

Caltech's first clinic on March 19 distributed the Pfizer vaccine. Upcoming clinics scheduled for the end of April through the beginning of June will distribute the Moderna vaccine.

Off-Campus Vaccinations

Yes. All individuals age 16 years or over are now eligible to be vaccinated.

All students age 16 years or over are now eligible to be vaccinated.

Vaccination appointments are available through state and county, resources, as well as via private healthcare providers and many local pharmacies, including several CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Vons, Pavilions, Albertsons, Costco, and Ralphs locations.

If you received your first dose vaccine at a PPHD-managed clinic (at Huntington Hospital or Pasadena City College) you are eligible to receive your second dose from a PPHD clinic as well. PPHD will follow up with you directly at the email or phone number provided when making your first appointment to schedule your second dose. Outreach will likely occur about a week before the second dose is due.