EDITOR'S NOTE: Multimedia journalist Lauren Pozen spoke to a SoCal college student about the booster mandate and the pivot back to online learning following the winter break. Click the arrow above to watch the video.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The California State University announced Wednesday that faculty, staff and students who are accessing university facilities or programs will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

Students and employees will be permitted to seek exemptions on medical and religious grounds.

"Vaccination, including a booster when eligible, remains our most effective strategy against infection and severe disease," CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro said. "This is particularly important in light of the rapid rise of cases of COVID-19 throughout the state and nation as the Omicron variant spreads. Implementing the booster requirement now will help mitigate the potential spread of the variant on campuses as they repopulate in January after the winter break."

The new requirement calls for boosters to be received by Feb. 28, or six months after an individual receives the final dose of the original vaccination, whichever is later. Individual campuses may establish an earlier date for compliance for students and non-represented employees based on local circumstances.

The new requirement will take effect immediately upon implementation of the policy. Represented employees will not be subject to the booster requirement until the CSU concludes its meet-and-confer process with its labor unions.

The policy applies to all 23 CSU campuses, including Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton.

The CSU's announcement comes one day after University of California President Dr. Michael Drake sent a letter to all 10 system chancellors stressing that COVID vaccine booster shots will be required for eligible students and staff.

Drake also directed the chancellors to develop a plan for a possible switch to remote learning when courses resume in January, which UCLA and UC Irvine said they would do for at least the first two weeks of the winter term.