The University of California (UC) last week issued an annual flu vaccine mandate for all nine UC campuses, citing rising flu cases.
“The University of California has issued a Policy on Vaccination Programs requiring all students, faculty, other academic appointees and staff who are living, learning or working on premises at any University facility to (i) receive Vaccine Education concerning influenza and vaccination as a preventive measure; and (ii) receive or affirmatively decline influenza vaccination,” announced UC San Diego (UCSD).
While UC has set December 1st as the “annual compliance date,” the UCSD campus has moved its deadline to Friday, November 18th.
UC is justifying the mandate with several CDC studies from 2017-2018 showing the flu vaccine reduced hospitalizations resulting from the flu between 2012-2016.
The mandate will closely follow the COVID vaccine mandate already in place on all UC campuses since last year. Students who refuse to take the flu shot will be required to wear masks and undergo routine testing.
Covered Individuals who are not vaccinated must observe additional Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) (e.g., masks or specialized personal protective equipment; routine testing) as directed by the Location Vaccine Authority (LVA) to mitigate risk to members of the University community, patients, and others with whom they interact,” reads the policy.
The affected UC campuses are UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz.
For its part, UCSD blames “lax masking and social distancing” for the rise in flu cases, despite there being weak scientific evidence at best for masking, and none for social distancing.
UC is using near-identical messaging to that of the COVID-19 vaccine, including the inherent righteousness involved for those who get the shot.
“Finally, by getting vaccinated, a person can protect those around them, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness,” says UC in the policy.
The university group also urged flu vaccination so as not to overwhelm the hospitals.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, where COVID-19, like influenza, results in respiratory symptoms, it is even more critical than usual to assure widespread vaccination. As California has lifted COVID-19 restrictions, outbreaks have followed and the possibility of a surge that overwhelms the health care system and causes hospitals to adopt crisis standards of care necessarily increases. Population-level interventions that decrease the likelihood of absenteeism, disease transmission, hospitalization, and ICU utilization must therefore be considered and adopted where feasible.”
So far, only flu and COVID-19 vaccines are being mandated.