Flu Vaccine Mandate Leaves University of California Students and Staff With Mixed Feelings

By Yudi Hu
Yudi Hu
Yudi Hu
and Alice Sun
Alice Sun
Alice Sun
October 19, 2021 Updated: October 20, 2021

The University of California (UC) is requiring its students, faculty, and staff to receive a flu vaccine by mid-November as part of its COVID-19 response, following a recent executive order.

The mandate applies to individuals who learn, live, or work on a UC campus for the duration of the 2021–22 flu season, according to UC spokeswoman Heather Harper.

Michael Drake, president of the University of California, wrote in the Oct. 8 executive order that the impetus for the mandate was to “reduce the likelihood of severe disease … and in turn to reduce the likelihood that our health systems will be overwhelmed.”

Harper told The Epoch Times that “opportunities for the influenza virus to spread will significantly increase” as many people return to pre-pandemic activities during flu season with less adherence to face coverings and physical distancing.

Last year, the UC executive board issued a similar flu vaccine mandate to all students and employees as a condition for accessing UC locations. That mandate expired during the 2020–21 school year.

Individuals can opt out of the flu vaccine by the Nov. 19 deadline. But they may be subject to a mask mandate, and/or routine testing, according to the executive order.

Like the COVID-19 vaccine mandate issued by UC earlier this year, people hold different opinions about the flu vaccine mandate.

“Maybe this a little too forceful,” Arman Danesh, a sophomore studying chemical engineering at the University of California–Irvine, told The Epoch Times.

Danesh said he had already planned to get the flu shot soon but was surprised to find out it’s now mandatory.

“They are just trying to follow up the COVID momentum. However, [a flu shot] shouldn’t be mandatory because it was not mandatory in the past.”

Kevin Huie, an academic counselor who has been working at UC Irvine for 13 years, said he believes the mandate by his employer is a positive.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if people look at UCs as a standard to do new things. We don’t want to overflood the health care system,” Huie told The Epoch Times.

Wanru Dong, a clinical research assistant at the University of California–San Diego, said, “I feel like the administration is pushing their agenda.”

Dong likened the UC’s mandate to a communist tactic. She was born and raised in communist China before immigrating to the U.S. in 1997.

“It’s starting to look like they’re using ‘science’ as an excuse to take away human rights,” Dong said.

​​Iris Liu, a junior at the University of California–Los Angeles, said the mandate would put others at ease.

“I feel like everybody would feel safer this way because [fewer] people will have symptoms [that are] similar to COVID,” Liu told The Epoch Times.

Jacob Sayono, a junior studying mechanical engineering at UCLA, said he has never gotten a flu shot before.

“I would opt out, but if I don’t have a choice, I probably would get the flu shot because I have to take classes.”

A research associate of a neuroscience laboratory at UCSD, Ameen Khan, said, “I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“As long as the flu shot doesn’t cause long-term harm or illness to anyone, I think it’s a good idea.”

Phillip Zhu, a first-year chemistry Ph.D. student at UCSD, told The Epoch Times, “I’m fine with the flu shot, but it’s annoying that I don’t get to choose to take it or not.”

Yudi Hu
Alice Sun