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COVID Vaccination Requirement Beginning Fall 2021

Dear Cal Lutheran Community,

I know many have been waiting to hear about our plans and policies around COVID-19 vaccinations. This note serves as our initial communique on this topic.

In brief, Cal Lutheran will be requiring all faculty, staff, new and returning students who are living, learning, working on, and accessing campuses for the 2021-22 academic year to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Online-only students are encouraged to receive the vaccine but are not mandated to do so if they are not physically present on a campus. 

For those who have questions regarding the various COVID-19 vaccines, the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) have extensive information and resources available. 

We have reached this decision after reading the literature and consulting with campus and local experts. As part of this work, an ad-hoc research team including Taiwo Ande (chair), Cathy Alexander, Caitlin Hodges, Melinda Medlen, Saul Miller, Samantha Olmon, and Paloma Vargas was charged with studying recommendations from health organizations (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and compiling information from universities throughout the state and the country. Once they completed their study and review, the team recommended that the entire on-campus community be fully vaccinated in the coming weeks. 

I shared this recommendation with the 32-person EOC Committee and the Cabinet. Both groups endorsed it. Those involved in shaping the policy believe that a vaccine requirement is the best way to keep our campus community safe and prioritize the health and safety of all.

I recognize that many have strong feelings regarding vaccinations. Still, after careful consideration and a review of the latest scientific and medical updates, we believe this is the decision that is most apt to protect those who live, learn, and work here. 


Faculty, staff, and other employees will be required to provide proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 15, 2021. This will support the goal of having the entire Cal Lutheran community as protected as possible by the time we are all back on campuses this fall. More details about how to show proof of vaccination and obtaining exceptions will be provided within the next several weeks. The latest information regarding COVID-19 and our policies can be found on the Cal Lutheran KNOW page.

Decreasing infection rates: promising on-campus and statewide trend data 

Thankfully, as we end the academic year, we have sustained low infection rates throughout the entire spring term. We have also witnessed increasing vaccination rates across the region, the state, and the country. 

As soon as vaccinations became available in Ventura and Alameda counties, many of us worked diligently to get access for our campus members. I am pleased to share that more than 1,000 students, staff, and faculty have already been vaccinated through clinics arranged by Cal Lutheran or held on the Thousand Oaks campus. Even more members of our community have sought the vaccine on their own.

Vaccines significantly reduce the spread of the virus and will allow those who access our campuses to return to many pre-pandemic activities. In California, anyone above the age of 12 now can be vaccinated, with the recent approval of the Pfizer vaccine for those ages 12-15. The Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are approved for those 18 and older.

If you have not yet been vaccinated, you can visit the following links for more information:

Vaccine Access 

Cal Lutheran will work with students and faculty who may have limitations on accessing vaccinations. Undocumented immigrants and international students are eligible for the vaccines with a Cal Lutheran ID. If an international student is unable to access vaccination prior to their arrival at Cal Lutheran, they will be expected to start the immunization process during their first week on any of our campuses. Faculty and staff who have not yet been vaccinated are encouraged to work with their primary care provider to get vaccination access or visit one of the county resource sites listed above.

Vaccine Exemptions

Limited exemptions to this policy will be considered based on medical and religious reasons, and those with these needs will be accommodated. Anyone with an approved exemption must continue to complete the Cal Lutheran Daily Health Check form and be tested for COVID on a weekly basis; additional personal protective equipment may also be required. The details regarding this process will be shared at the same time as the information about the vaccination reporting process previously mentioned.

Benefits of a Vaccination Policy Mandate

The science is clear. As more people get vaccinated, individuals and communities alike accrue health benefits. Relatedly, the CDC has made it clear that vaccinated individuals will be required to abide by fewer restrictions than those who are not fully vaccinated. Having a California Lutheran COVID-19 vaccination requirement will allow us to fully reopen each of our campuses this Fall with a sense of guarded optimism. This requirement is one of the necessary steps to re-establish a vibrant and enriching on-the-ground living, learning, and working environment. Our students deserve that; we deserve that.  

We thank you in advance for your support and understanding as we prepare for a healthy and safe Fall Semester.

The latest information about Cal Lutheran’s response to COVID-19 can always be found on the Cal Lutheran KNOW page.

Lori E. Varlotta, Ph.D.