International students heading to California colleges navigate vaccine, visa hurdles

Published: 05/06/2021

Source: calmatters


More California colleges are planning to require students to get COVID-19 vaccinations. For international students, that often means only vaccines approved by the World Health Organization will be accepted, even though not all students have access to those.

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A growing list of California colleges will require students to get COVID-19 vaccinations as classes largely resume in-person this fall. For the roughly 160,000 international college students enrolled in California, the mandate introduces a new layer of complexity: Will the vaccines offered in their home countries be accepted in the Golden State?

The answer for an increasing number of campuses that plan to require vaccination is a partial yes. The University of California, which enrolls nearly 40,000 students from overseas, on Tuesday said in its draft policy that it will accept international vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization. That aligns the 10-campus system with some other institutions in the state, including the California Institute of Technology and the University of Southern California, which enrolls over 10,000 international students. 

The policy at the California State University, the system of choice for about 13,000 international students, is still under development, said spokesperson Toni Molle. Stanford University said the same. 

The CSU, UC and USC all say they’ll begin requiring a vaccine for in-person activities once one is formally approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Right now all three vaccines in the U.S are being administered under an emergency provision. Stanford made no mention of waiting for that emergency-use authorization to lift.

COVID-19 has led to a 14% drop in international college student enrollment in the U.S. between 2019 and 2020, and an even sharper decrease among new international students.

In addition to the three U.S. vaccines approved for emergency use, guidance to American colleges says they can accept other vaccines approved by the World Health Organization. But of the five vaccines so far approved by the organization, so far none are ones that are produced in China, from which 44% of all international students in California come. India, another top sender of international students, has a vaccine accepted by the World Health Organization, but is experiencing a scarcity that may last months, the chief executive of a main vaccine manufacturer said. 

Source: calmatters

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