Full approval for Pfizer vaccine good news in push for vaccinations

To: UCSC Community

From: Cynthia Larive Chancellor; Lori Kletzer Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

Monday’s announcement that federal regulators have granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is good news, and it arrives at a crucial time in the collective global push to beat back the pandemic that has turned our world upside down over the past 18 months.

We are hopeful that this regulatory milestone will increase inoculation rates and spark a wave of vaccine mandates like the one adopted by the University of California. The approval comes amid a surge of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, which has an outsized impact on the unvaccinated.

As educators — and leaders of a world-renowned research university — we believe deeply in science. Based on the evidence, we know that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality that comes with full FDA authorization, and believe the public can feel confident that this vaccine is both safe and effective.

The FDA approval comes at an important time in our campus vaccination push. The Office of the President considers a fully vaccinated campus one where at least 90 percent of students, faculty and staff are fully vaccinated. It is imperative we reach that threshold by Sept. 9, which is the deadline for employees and students to submit their proof of vaccination or to initiate a request for exception. Our vaccination numbers are increasing — as of Monday afternoon, 61 percent of employees had submitted their vaccination details, 60 percent of students — but these numbers still are not where they need to be.

As a comparison, approximately 94 percent of undergraduates and graduate students who are enrolling at UC Berkeley this fall have submitted their proof of vaccination. More than 87 percent of their faculty and staff have submitted proof. Classes start Aug. 25 at Berkeley, so they have had a head start, but we are now just a month out from our first day of classes. Please do not delay any longer.

  • Instructions for employees to submit proof of vaccination are online. It's quick and easy, and shouldn’t take much more than a minute. We urge employees delaying submission because they continue to work from home to submit now. Coming to campus for just one meeting or a training requires compliance with the policy.
  • Students should log in to the campus health portal, go to Medical Clearances, then COVID-19 to add their information. If you received your vaccine from our on-campus clinic, we already have a record of your vaccine and no other action is required on your part for verification.
  • If you are planning to be vaccinated and have yet to schedule shots, now is the time to do it. Many options are available to you.

For the health and well-being of all of our community members, it’s important that everyone who can get vaccinated does so. The FDA approval hopefully gives peace of mind to those who were waiting for full authorization to schedule their shots. We have that now. Thank you for doing all you can to keep our campus community safe from this virus.