UC Announces Flu Vaccine Mandate for all Students and Faculty Amid Rise of Influenza and COVID-19 Cases Across San Diego County

The University of California issued a Flu Vaccine Mandate for students, faculty, other academic appointees, and staff who are living, learning, or working on campus. The mandate was announced via email on Nov. 8, and UC San Diego has set the compliance date for receiving or affirmatively denying the vaccine as Friday, Nov. 18. 

The mandate arrived amidst rising COVID and influenza infections across San Diego County. There have been 5,471 flu cases and 91,933 COVID-19 cases in the county in the period of July 3 to Nov. 5.

Unsurprisingly, flu cases have more than quadrupled compared to previous years, likely as a result of lax masking and social distancing guidelines in 2022. The flu season usually lasts between October and March of each year. 

Currently, there are seven different strains of influenza across the county, with Influenza A being the most common among reported infections. 

San Diego public health officer Dr. Wilma J. Wooten told KPBS of the potential effects of a widespread flu outbreak. 

“We have reason to believe that respiratory illnesses could be extremely disruptive in the region this year for businesses, hospitals, and people’s lives,” Wooten said. “San Diegans must do their part to prevent the spread of these illnesses.”

Nationally, cases are also on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there have been 2.8 million cases of the flu so far this season, with 23,000 hospitalizations and 1,300 deaths. The CDC website also states that an annual flu vaccination is the most effective method of protection. 

On-campus masking policies are set to change beginning Dec. 16, to make masking optional in classrooms, labs, and on UCSD transportation, but public health experts continue to recommend masking in indoor spaces to minimize the transmission of respiratory diseases. 

Flu vaccines are free of charge for students regardless of their insurance coverage. Failure to comply with the vaccination mandate may result in students being reported to the Office of Student Conduct, where the student compliance team may offer advising for students to adhere to the University’s policies. 

To schedule your vaccination, please visit MyStudentChart. If you wish to decline the vaccine by the Nov. 18 deadline, the 2022-23 flu vaccine declination form can be found here. Otherwise, if you wish to get a free KN95 mask or rapid antigen test, click here to view pick-up locations. 

Data Visualizations by Ifunanya Okoroma for the UCSD Guardian

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