USC will no longer require COVID-19 vaccines, lifts other restrictions

The announcement was made via email and it is set to start in summer 2023.

Vaccine eligibility has been a contested issue in recent months

USC Student Health officially announced today that COVID-19 vaccines will no longer be a requirement for students as of May 19, amongst other COVID-19 updates that signal the end of the pandemic.

Students were previously notified of the expected removal of the university’s vaccine mandate when Chief Student Health Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman made a statement in a briefing with the Daily Trojan last month.

But in an email sent out on April 11, USC Student Health notified the university that COVID-19 vaccines will not be mandated for the incoming class, with the university changing the vaccine policy from required to “strongly recommended.”

This change only applies to students seeking non-health degrees. Healthcare workers, Keck Medicine faculty and staff, as well as students with health profession degrees will be updated through their school or department.

Grace Love, a freshman majoring in chemistry, wasn’t too concerned about this update, as she believed it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

“Because everyone here is mostly vaccinated, lifting that restriction doesn’t seem to be too big of a deal because it’s not like it’s a majority of the population that (is) going to be unvaccinated,” Love said.

Will Stewart, a junior majoring in computer science, said COVID-19 hadn’t been at the forefront of his mind throughout this semester, only wearing a mask when someone was sick, but expressed how the removal of the vaccine requirement gave him something to consider.

“I think the only thing really is that it makes me a little more aware of when I’m sick or when my friend is sick with something else, and not going to class or wearing a mask,” Stewart said.

USC Student Health also announced the closing of testing tents on both the HSC and UPC Campus, but students will still be able to pick up free antigen test kits at USC bookstores, Engemann and Eric Cohen student health centers, and from the CSC desks in USC Housing.

As of April 1, students are not required to have a negative antigen test to leave isolation after their 5 day and students are now allowed to leave isolation if they have not had a fever within 24 hours and their symptoms have alleviated.

Aleeah Flowers, a senior majoring in intelligence and cyber operations, expressed her relief at the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s been a little tough with classes and some restrictions, but I feel like USC made it quite easy to still attend classes with those restrictions,” Flowers said. “I am glad that they are finally leaving us because it was a bit of a hassle, but not anything too crazy.”

These changes come after Los Angeles County ended the emergency declaration of COVID-19 on March 31, as many restrictions continue to be alleviated.

As of April 3, California healthcare workers and those in other high-risk indoor settings are not required to wear a mask, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Amidst these updates, USC Student Health took the opportunity to highlight the efforts that have been made throughout the past three years of the pandemic.

“We could not imagine at the time how hard this would be, how much it would take, and yet many at the university contributed with what seemed to be superhuman effort, putting forward our best selves to help our community when it needed us the most,” Van Orman said.