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8/20/2021 - To Undergraduate Students: Caltech's COVID-19 Vaccination Policies

To: Caltech Undergraduate Students

From: Leslie Nye
Interim Dean of Undergraduate Students


In April, Caltech announced a policy requiring COVID-19 vaccination for undergraduate students, with an option for undergraduate students to submit a declination form for personal reasons until at least one vaccine is granted full FDA approval. On August 16, the Institute announced an updated vaccine policy that is independent of full FDA approval for any vaccine. Under this new policy, all students, faculty, staff, and postdoctoral researchers must confirm their full vaccination status or have an approved exemption no later than October 15, 2021.

The decision to implement this updated policy in advance of full FDA approval reflects the increased risks associated with the aggressive spread of the Delta variant, and reinforces our collective responsibility to protect the health and well-being of everyone in our community, especially those who are otherwise not able to be protected. 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. 

The purpose of this letter is to share with our undergraduate student community the relevant processes and deadlines associated with the Institute's COVID-19 vaccination policies.

  • As a condition of your enrollment in Caltech's undergraduate program for the 2021-22 Academic Year, you were required to submit proof of vaccination or request a medical exception or a personal declination through the Student Health Portal by August 15, 2021. If you have not done so, you may lose your ability to enroll for the fall term. To remain enrolled, you need to act immediately and fulfill this requirement through the Student Health Portal.
  • If you submitted a personal declination form, you now must provide proof of full vaccination by October 15, 2021, or submit a Vaccine Exemption Form and receive approval for an exemption. Students who fail to fulfill this requirement may be dropped from fall-term classes and lose their ability to remain enrolled at Caltech.
  • Given the risks of community transmission associated with congregate living, only fully vaccinated students will be eligible for undergraduate housing. Students with housing fall-term assignments must submit proof of full vaccination (two weeks post single-dose vaccine, or two weeks post second dose of a multi-dose vaccine) by September 1. If you fail to do so, you may lose your housing assignment.
  • If you are a newly arriving international undergraduate student and you have not had access to the COVID-19 vaccine in your home country, you may be eligible for a limited and transitional exception in complying with the Institute's vaccine requirement. To be eligible for this exception, you must inform Student Wellness Services through the Student Health Portal by September 1, 2021. SWS will provide you with assistance in making vaccine appointments and undergoing the vaccination process upon your arrival in Pasadena. You will need to quarantine and submit to COVID-19 testing before moving into your permanent housing assignment. 

While vaccination remains a vitally important mechanism for controlling the spread of  SARS-CoV-2 and limiting the risk of severe illness, surveillance testing and rigorous health and hygiene practices are also critical to community health and safety. More information about testing and health and hygiene policies for undergraduate students will be communicated over the course of the coming weeks.