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Questions & Answers

UC San Diego is committed to supporting our students, faculty, staff and Triton community members as we work together to resume in-person teaching, research and service in the safest way possible. We have compiled the resources below with answers to many of your questions, and please reach out to the appropriate office if you have further questions on the following topics:

If you have a question about the Return to Learn program (COVID-19 vaccinations, testing and screening, exposure and contact tracing, masking and safety guidelines, COVID-19 dashboard, or wastewater monitoring), please review the corresponding Return to Learn web page information and take a moment to browse the questions and answers below. If you cannot find the answer, please use our contact form that is linked below the list of questions.

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COVID-19 Symptoms

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 that warrant testing?

Any of the following that are unrelated to a chronic condition: Cough, shortness of breath, fever, fatigue or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.

Why do I need to screen for symptoms?

  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should conduct a test. Determining if you have an infection is critical so that you receive the correct care and to avoid infecting others. The screening tool also provides ready access to testing.
  • Instructors and TAs are permitted to ask students to present their screener result on their smartphone, computer or a printout before being allowed to enter the classroom.
  • Your screening information will NOT be a part of your student education records.
  • You will need to know your Active Directory (AD) login credentials to sign in. Go here if you have forgotten and need to reset.

Who needs to conduct the daily symptom screening?

All UC San Diego staff, faculty and student employees who are reporting to campus or any other physical UC San Diego location for work must conduct a daily symptom and exposure screening for COVID-19 and report any symptoms. The symptom and exposure screening tool can be accessed from a computer or mobile device. If you are unable to access the internet, you should call your supervisor/work lead/check-in person in advance of going to work on-site. Your supervisor will be notified daily of your work status. If you have severe symptoms, you should call 911.

Employees who are working remotely in the San Diego region, are also strongly encouraged to conduct the daily self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms and report any symptoms.

All students who are currently on campus or plan to physically come to campus are expected to complete the screening daily. The rest of the student population is highly encouraged to fill out the screening daily in order to carefully self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

Learn more on the Testing and Screening page.

I have symptoms of COVID-19. What should I do?

Students in the SD region: Call Student Health Services at 858-534-3300 for consultation. Stay at home until you have received guidance, which may include testing for COVID-19. Tests can be completed at no cost to students at Student Health Services or UC San Diego Health locations, regardless of healthcare provider.

Students outside of the SD region: Call your healthcare provider. Stay at home until you have received guidance, which may include testing for COVID-19.

Remote employees: If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and you report them in the daily symptom and exposure screening tool, you will be contacted by the dedicated COVID Nurses line. You may also contact them directly at 619-543-8260. A healthcare professional will assist you with determining if you should be tested. Tests can be completed at no cost to employees at UC San Diego Health locations. You may also choose to visit your own healthcare provider for testing.

On-site employees: If you have symptoms of COVID-19, do not report to your worksite. You will be contacted by the dedicated COVID Nurses line. You may contact them directly at 619-543-8260. A healthcare professional will assist you with determining if you should be tested. Tests can be completed at no cost to employees at UC San Diego Health locations. You may also choose to visit your own healthcare provider for testing.

If you are at a UC San Diego worksite and you develop symptoms, you should retake the symptom screening immediately and call the dedicated COVID Nurses line at 619-543-8260 to speak with a healthcare professional who will assist you with determining if you should be tested. You will be sent home by your supervisor. Tests can be completed at no cost to employees at UC San Diego Health locations. You may also choose to visit your own healthcare provider for testing.

Learn more on the Testing and Screening page.

Why did I receive a red thumb on the Symptom Screener?

There are a handful of scenarios that can trigger a red thumb on the employee or student symptom screener. Read below and check if any of the following conditions apply to you.

  • You are currently experiencing symptoms 
  • You have recently tested positive for COVID-19
  • You have recently been exposed to COVID-19 and are not fully vaccinated
  • You have not agreed to share your vaccination info in MyChart
  • You are a student employee and used the employee screener
    • All students, including student employees, should only fill out the student screener
    • If you have not added your supervisor to your screener, you will need to re-register or update your screener
  • You are not up to date with the Vaccination/Booster Requirements and do not have an approved Exception or Deferral
  • You are up to date with the Booster Requirement but have not recorded your booster information in MyChart
  • You are not up to date with the testing requirements
    • Unvaccinated students and campus employees and those who have been vaccinated and are booster eligible but have not received a booster are required to test twice weekly unless they have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days
    • See more on the Testing and Screening webpage
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and UC San Diego has not been notified of your result.
    • If you are an employee and you have tested positive outside UC San Diego, please send your provider-administered test results, including date of birth, date of test, and full name to emp-test-sch-line@health.ucsd.edu. (Uploading to MyChart is insufficient–you must also notify UC San Diego.)
    • If you are a student (including student employees) and you have tested positive outside UC San Diego, please send your provider-administered test results, including date of birth, date of test, and full name to shsmr@health.ucsd.edu. (Uploading to MyStudentChart is insufficient–you must also notify UC San Diego.)

COVID-19 Testing

What is the CA Notify exposure notification app and who can use it?

CA COVID Notify, published by the State of California, uses the Exposure Notifications System from Google and Apple to alert you when you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. It will quickly notify you if you’ve likely been exposed, allowing you to seek medical attention and reduce risk for your loved ones. Additional information about the program and instructions on how to download the app can be found here.

My campus card is not functioning at test kit vending machines. What should I do?

Please review the list of compatible campus ID cards for COVID-19 test kit vending machines. If you do not have one of these cards, you can still schedule a COVID-19 test at the Price Center or one of the Health drive-up locations. You do not need money or a balance on the compatible campus ID card in order to use it for the test kit vending machines.

If you are still encountering issues with your ID card, we recommend that you reach out to the Campus Card Office to look into the issue.

More information is available on the Student Campus Cards and Employee Campus Cards webpages.

Do I still need to test regularly after a recent COVID-19 infection or positive PCR result?

No, if you have had COVID-19 in the past 90 days you should NOT test and you are exempt from campus testing requirements. If your positive test was conducted outside of UC San Diego, students should report it to Student Health Services and employees should report it to the UC San Diego Testing Line at 619-543-8260. If you have new symptoms within 90 days, students should speak with Student Health Services and employees should speak with their health care provider about testing.

Where can I review the current UC San Diego testing guidelines?

The current testing guidelines are available on the Testing and Screening webpage.

What do I do if I have symptoms and I am waiting for test results?

  • You should behave as if you may be infected and can infect others while you are waiting for your results.
  • Do not leave your residence or suite; remain alone or wear a mask at all times in your residence.
  • Do not attend in-person classes. If you are a student employee, do not report to work on-site.
  • Wear a face covering if you enter common areas and avoid contact with others, including roommates.
  • Wash your hands before leaving your room or when coming into contact with others.

How will I be notified of my test result?

  • If you are tested at UC San Diego and your result is positive, you will usually receive a phone call within 24 hours and your result will be in your MyStudentChart.
  • If you were tested at UC San Diego and your result is negative, you will receive a notification in MyStudentChart usually within 24 hours.
  • If you are tested at UC San Diego and you have not received your test results within 48 hours, please call Student Health Services at 858-534-3300.
  • If you are a student who tests negative at a clinic outside UC San Diego, please send an email to shsmr@ucsd.edu and attach your result as well as your PID to ensure correct attribution. If you test positive at a clinic outside UC San Diego, contact Student Health Services at 858-534-3300.

I am a fully remote student or employee, what are my testing requirements?

Fully remote students and employees are exempt from asymptomatic campus testing requirements. If you are fully remote but need to come to campus, you are encouraged to conduct a PCR COVID-19 test 48 hours before arriving on campus as well as on the day you arrive. Remember, you are not required to conduct a PCR test if you have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days.

Please visit the Student Testing and Screening or Employee Testing and Screening webpages for more information. 

It’s been more than 48 hours since I tested at a test kit vending machine and I still don’t have my results. What should I do?

Please double-check that the scan was received in the UC San Diego app. If the scan was received, then you should have a notification in the UC San Diego app that your scan has been received and it includes the barcode. 

Please email RTL@ucsd.edu if there is a notification and what the barcode is (the “EXC…” barcode). If a notification doesn’t appear, then it is likely that the scan did not occur and there would not be a way to locate the test without the associated barcode.

I have dependents on my SHIP insurance plan. Are they eligible for testing?

In most cases, the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) covers students and dependents if they meet the medical criteria for COVID-19 testing. To learn more about your individual situation or for more information on SHIP, please contact Student Health Services at 858-534-3300.

How is UC San Diego working with and being guided by county and state recommendations?

We're working closely with the county and state to ensure that all of our activities are in alignment with their recommendations, their orders, and their policies. This is occurring on a number of levels, including the testing that we provide and the symptom screening, as well as the sanitation and other activities on campus to reduce the transmission risk. We're really working hand in hand to ensure that we are following guidelines but also enhancing them with our own understanding of how we can better target and reduce risk on campus and identify outbreaks early.

I’m an employee and I have symptoms of COVID-19, which I indicated in the daily symptom and exposure screening. What happens next?

Do not come to work on-site. Your supervisor will be notified that you received a red thumb for the day. Work with your supervisor to determine next steps. If you are scheduled to work remotely and if you feel well enough to work, you can still engage in work. UC San Diego Health’s Testing Support Line will contact you to determine if a COVID-19 test needs to be scheduled at no cost to you. You may also choose to contact your healthcare provider to schedule a test. For additional information, please go to: https://blink.ucsd.edu/HR/services/covid-19/symptom-screening/

I am an on-site employee who received a positive test result. What happens next?

Campus on-site employees who test positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by UC San Diego Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) as quickly as possible, usually within 24 hours. If you are a campus on-site employee who tests positive at a non-UC San Diego Health location, you must report your results to COEM at COEMexposure@health.ucsd.edu to support contact tracing efforts.

Student employees who test positive will be communicated with and coordinated through UC San Diego Student Health Services (SHS). Student employees who test positive with an outside healthcare provider, must report their results to SHS by calling 858-534-3300.

COEM, in conjunction with the UC San Diego Public Health’s COVID Response team, will contact the positive person and conduct case investigation and contact tracing. This process involves reviewing their health, identifying close contacts and where they have been on campus, reviewing campus release from work and return to work requirements, and notifying San Diego County Public Health to ensure proper reporting. We ask that you notify your close contacts that they need to quarantine, monitor for symptoms, and get tested ASAP.

COEM will notify the UC San Diego Emergency Operations Center (EOC) of the date, time and location(s) that the positive employee was on-site. The EOC will contact the supervisor by phone or email to collect additional information on the work area to make disinfection, sanitation and deep cleaning determinations and operational pause notifications. To comply with privacy policies and laws and maintain patient confidentiality, the positive employee’s name and any information about the person’s identity should remain confidential and should not be shared over email.

Further information on what to do if you are a campus employee or student that has recently tested positive for COVID-19 is available on the Exposure and Isolation webpage.

Who should be notified if someone working on campus tests positive for COVID-19?

If an employee working on campus tests positive for COVID-19, a notification to COEM at COEMexposure@health.ucsd.edu and to EOC at eoc@ucsd.edu must be made to support contact tracing and disinfection efforts.

If a student working on campus tests positive for COVID-19, a notification to SHS must be made.

What type of communication should I expect if I test positive?

Employees will receive a phone call from UC San Diego’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) if you were tested at a UC San Diego Health location to notify you of your test results and to conduct a case investigation. Students will receive a call from Student Health Services.

If you reported your positive test results to COEM’s email address, they will call you to follow up after they receive your notification to begin case investigation, typically within 24 hours. All COVID-19 positive cases are reported to San Diego County Public Health Services, who may attempt to call you as well. Please do not be alarmed by the multiple follow-up calls; it is for the health and safety of our county and campus communities. Communication will be done on campus phones so please answer calls from campus phone numbers and/or return calls promptly.

What happens if a student who is required to test does not?

Unless granted a special exemption approved by Student Health Services, students living or coming to campus who are not compliant with surveillance testing may be referred to the Student Conduct Office for the progressive discipline process. See the full noncompliance policy.

What if a student gets a test outside of UC San Diego to fulfill their requirement?

For students who complete their COVID-19 test outside of UC San Diego, please send an email to shsmr@ucsd.edu and attach your result as well as your PID to ensure correct attribution. Your result will be added into your student health chart.

Why do I need to test?

Asymptomatic testing is a collective public health program that helps minimize transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and detect outbreaks early.

Young people may not develop symptoms if they are infected, and if symptoms do occur, they may not show for up to 14 days after initial exposure.

Are the data on campus COVID-19 cases and testing publicly available?

The Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Testing Dashboard provides information about COVID-19 testing and prevalence in the UC San Diego community based on tests conducted by UC San Diego Health and UC San Diego Student Health Services. It is updated each weekday.

 

COVID-19 Vaccines

Why is it important to be vaccinated?

For the safety and well-being of the entire university community, the University of California requires, with few exceptions, that all students, faculty and staff be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus (see the full policy here).

COVID-19 vaccinations are an important way to protect yourself and your family. In the short term, you can keep those who are older and who have other underlying conditions from becoming severely ill and potentially hospitalized.

In the longer term, vaccines reduce viral replication in the community. The more people who become infected, the greater the risk of additional variants developing. And variants can weaken the strength of vaccines, resulting in a need for constant updates and refinements. It is critical to prevent the virus from spreading and replicating in the first place.

For more information, visit the CDC Vaccination website.

Are students, faculty and staff required to be fully vaccinated?

The University of California approved a policy that requires all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they will be allowed on campus or in a facility or office. Individuals must show proof of vaccination two weeks before they are expected to be on campus for the fall term. Guidelines for how the policy will be implemented are being finalized and are expected to be issued very soon.

The policy will allow for medical exemptions consistent with CDC guidance and manufacturer labeling on contraindications and precautions. As with other policies, and, in the case of employees as required by federal and California law, faculty, staff and students will also be eligible to request accommodations based on disability or religious belief, and deferrals are available for those who are pregnant.

Those with approved exemptions, accommodations or deferrals may return to their location with the expectation that they will remain masked in all public settings and comply with the local testing plan. Employees who choose not to be vaccinated—and have no approved exemption, accommodation or deferral—potentially put others’ health at risk and may face disciplinary actions.

Is the booster (third) dose mandatory?

Yes. All students, faculty, staff and academic appointees accessing any UC facility are required to be “fully vaccinated” or have an approved exemption per the UC vaccination policy. To remain “fully vaccinated,” students and campus employees are required to receive all recommended booster doses within 30 days (15 days for health care employees) of becoming eligible.

  • If you are eligible for a booster but recently were positive for COVID-19, you will have 30 to 90 days after being infected to receive your booster. Your date for boosting has been extended by up to 90 days to remain compliant with the UC mandate.  
  • Currently approved religious and permanent medical exemptions extend to boosters; there is no need to submit an additional exemption request.

I had a breakthrough infection. Do I need the booster?

If you had a breakthrough infection, it is recommended you wait 30 to 90 days from the date of your positive test to get a booster.

How do the vaccines work?

Two types of vaccines are available: those that use messenger RNA (mRNA) and ones that use a modified adenovirus to present the viral spike protein to the immune system. The goal of vaccination is to familiarize the immune system with the spike protein of the virus so that when someone is exposed, the person’s immune response can evolve much more quickly and gain control of the virus before severe illness develops. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use synthetic mRNA to instruct muscle cells to make the viral spike protein.

Vaccines that use mRNA are remarkably safe; mRNA has been termed the “instruction set for life.” It is used regularly to instruct every cell in our body on which proteins to make. They are produced in the nucleus of the cell by being copied from your DNA. They then go out into the main part of the cell where proteins are made and tell the cell’s protein production machinery what proteins to make. Once the instructions are read, the mRNA decays and its pieces are recycled to the nucleus to make new mRNA. The mRNA vaccines work the same way. The mRNA in these vaccines tell your muscle cells to make the viral spike protein. Once these instructions are delivered, the mRNA is degraded over 12 hours, and the spike protein that is created as a preview for the immune system disappears over 48 hours.

The Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine that was reviewed by the FDA on Feb. 27, 2021 uses a modified adenovirus that can enter cells but can’t replicate inside them or cause illness. The adenovirus carries instructions to the cell nucleus to make mRNA, encoding the viral spike protein. As in the case of mRNA vaccines in which the mRNA is directly delivered, the adenovirus vaccine-associated mRNA migrates out of the nucleus and tells the cell to make the viral spike protein. The adenovirus used in these vaccines is defective and cannot grow further. It is quickly degraded and disappears.

To learn more about how vaccines work, please visit the CDC website.

Can you tell us more about the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine?

This vaccine is slightly less effective than others in preventing mild disease but is very effective in preventing severe disease or death. The studies of this vaccine were carried out in the U.S., Africa and Brazil where the new variant strains are circulating. Although some people became mildly ill, no one was hospitalized and there were no deaths.

The primary goal of vaccinations is to avert hospitalization and any more deaths while we continue to decrease the amount of virus circulating. The Janssen vaccine prevents people from developing severe disease and death. There will eventually be a booster shot available like the other vaccines. For now, because the Janssen vaccine requires only one dose, we can get a large number of people vaccinated very quickly.

Can the mRNA in vaccines alter your DNA?

Rumors have circulated that mRNA vaccines can change your DNA. This is false. Every cell in our body uses mRNA as a way to instruct cells on which proteins to make. While they enter cells to conduct their work, they do not enter the nucleus where DNA is stored. The vaccines that use mRNA to instruct cells to build the coronavirus spike protein help prepare your body to produce antibodies that combat coronavirus if you come in contact with it later. The mRNA is quickly degraded once it is in the body, which is one reason why these vaccines must be carefully preserved at very low temperatures.

Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work on the CDC website

Are there any side effects?

Soreness in the arm at the site of the shot is common. After the second vaccination, because your immune system has already seen it once, you may have a more vigorous response. Some people have a low-grade fever or feel tired for about 36 hours, but serious side effects have been extremely rare. Others don’t experience any symptoms at all. Regardless, these are mild side effects that are certainly less concerning than the prospect of becoming infected with COVID-19.

Are the vaccines effective against the new variants?

COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant and other variants with widespread circulation in the United States. Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant.

To learn more, please visit the CDC website.

Do I need to continue to mask after vaccination on campus?

All campus members and visitors should have a mask with them at all times while on campus. The campus recommends the use of N-95 and KN-95 masks. A face covering/face mask DOES NOT include a scarf, ski mask, balaclava, bandana, gaiter, turtleneck, collar, plastic face shield, or single layer of fabric. Read the full masking policy online.

General guidelines for indoor and outdoor settings are available on the Masking and Operations website

Can a person be vaccinated if they are currently infected or had COVID-19 in the past?

There is no evidence that being vaccinated while you have COVID-19 (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic) is harmful. In fact, this happened in the vaccine trials and these individuals did not experience any side effects that differed from others.

For those who have recovered from COVID-19, it is still recommended that you are vaccinated. The reason is that vaccines induce better immunity than the real disease by two or fourfold. The vaccine may also offer stronger protection for a longer period and to a greater degree. There are also studies now emerging that suggest those who have been recently infected (within the past year) may need only a single vaccination since the illness itself has already familiarized the immune response with the virus. The initial vaccination in these people then essentially becomes the booster shot.

Does the intensity of an individual’s reaction to the vaccine reflect vaccine effectiveness?

While uncomfortable for some people, the “fire” in your arm following the COVID-19 vaccination — more commonly after the second dose of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna — represents the evidence of an immune response. “Germinal centers” are developing in lymph tissue to stimulate pre-existing as well as new B cell clones, which then generate high-affinity, broad, and durable antibodies for considerable immunity. It is a good burn like you might feel after a hard workout in a gym. We do not know whether the intensity of an individual’s symptoms exactly predicts the subsequent levels of antibodies and duration of protection.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine affect women who are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or are breastfeeding?

Based on all the available data both in animals and in humans, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination impacts female (or male) fertility. For women who anticipate becoming pregnant in the very near future, the risk of actual COVID-19 infection during pregnancy is the major concern, since COVID-19 infection is significantly more dangerous for pregnant women compared to women the same age who are not pregnant, including the risk of preterm birth. These are risks that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine could prevent.

The CDC Control states that any of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines can be offered to people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, but vaccination remains a personal choice.

Which vaccines will be accepted to fulfill the vaccine requirement?

UC San Diego will accept WHO-approved vaccines. Additionally, we will make “booster” shots available to any students who may have received vaccines that are not as potent or that do not protect against strains circulating in the fall. There are no known negative health risks to additional vaccinations. We anticipate that, in fact, booster shots will be required for all vaccines as immunity wanes and as the virus evolves.

If students have a choice between getting vaccinations in their home country or delaying until they arrive in the U.S., what is UC San Diego's recommendation?

We encourage students to take advantage of vaccines which are available in their home country rather than delaying until arrival at UC San Diego.

What documentation will UC San Diego accept to fulfill the vaccine requirement?

Students and families should prepare any necessary documentation before arrival in the Fall. We will accept an unofficial English translation accompanied by a copy of the native language vaccination record.

Will international students be eligible to receive a free vaccine at UC San Diego?

Yes, UC San Diego students will have access to free vaccination. We will provide vaccinations to students who arrive who are not yet vaccinated.

I do not have access to vaccines in my home country. What is the process for getting the vaccine when I arrive at UC San Diego?

Students should submit a request created for this situation International Student Without Access to Vaccination no later than 9/2 so that they are time-stamped to meet the 9/6 deadline. Please refer to Exceptions and Deferral requests. You have an 8-week time limit to get vaccinated at UC San Diego after arrival or you will be out of compliance with the mandate. While awaiting full vaccination you will need to follow the Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (masking and testing) for unvaccinated individuals. You will be able to attend classes. Visit the Vaccination Access site for information regarding the on-campus.

I took a non-WHO approved vaccine. Will I have to take the booster or take two doses to fulfill the vaccine requirement?

A non-WHO approved vaccine will not meet the mandate requirement. Depending on what vaccine you received, SHS will provide guidance on next steps for clinical care and to meet the mandate. Email studentcovidmandate@health.ucsd.edu.

If I cannot arrive in FA21 due to visa/travel delays and will take only remote classes, would I still be required to fulfill the COVID-19 vaccine requirement? Vaccines are not available in my home country so I am afraid of being dropped from my remote classes if I cannot meet or provide proof of vaccination. What is the site to verify that the vaccine offered in my home country is WHO approved?

All World Health Organization-approved vaccinations meet the UC vaccine mandate requirement. “Fully vaccinated” is defined as two weeks after the completion of any series of WHO-approved vaccines. Student Health Services will provide international students and visiting scholars with individualized guidance if they have not completed their vaccine series or require additional clinical guidance. You will need to comply with the mandate before returning to campus.

How do I comply with the vaccine requirement while I am still outside the U.S.?

To document proof of vaccination, please visit the vaccine mandate compliance site and follow the steps accordingly.

I missed the TB risk screening deadline on 7/28. How do I fulfill the requirement?

All incoming students are required to complete a TB Risk Screening Questionnaire. Please begin this process early to avoid delays or enrollment issues.

Can I ask my campus colleagues and/or peers about their vaccination status?

Please do not engage in asking others about their vaccination status. Individuals should each take the safety precautions needed to alleviate their own concerns and best take care of themselves – this includes wearing a mask, taking COVID-19 safety precautions and receiving the vaccine, if you can do so.

Are appointments to receive a COVID-19 booster now available?

Yes, appointments for Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine boosters are now available for all students and campus and health employees. 

Are booster shots the same formulation as existing vaccines?

Yes. COVID-19 booster shots are the same formulation as the current COVID-19 vaccines. However, in the case of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, it is half the dose of the vaccine people get for their initial series.

Can I receive a different brand of COVID-19 booster than my original doses?

Yes, the CDC has authorized a mix-and-match approach, so you can select which brand of booster vaccine you want while scheduling your appointment. Currently, UC San Diego Health is offering all approved boosters, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. For further guidance on which booster you could receive, please consult with their health care provider.

Is COVID-19 booster vaccination required by the UC mandate?

For the safety and well-being of the entire university community, the University of California requires, with few exceptions, that all students, faculty and staff be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus (see the full policy here).

To remain “fully vaccinated,” students and campus employees are required to receive all recommended booster doses within 30 days (15 days for health care employees) of becoming eligible. 

To learn more about the vaccination mandate, please visit the Vaccine Mandate Overview website.

I’m a student who recently had COVID. How do I make sure the school knows about it/how do I ensure my booster eligibility is extended for 90 days?

If you are eligible for a booster but recently were positive for COVID-19, you will have up to 90 days after being infected to receive your booster. Please follow up with Student Health Services to report your positive COVID-19 diagnosis and any positive PCR tests conducted outside of UC San Diego. Your date for boosting will then be extended by up to 90 days after your COVID-19 infection date in order to remain compliant with the UC mandate.

SARS-CoV-2 Wastewater Monitoring

What is SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring?

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is shed from the gastrointestinal tract and can be detected in feces early in the infection before clinical symptoms. UC San Diego’s wastewater monitoring program tests for SARS-CoV-2 virus in the wastewater outflow from buildings across the campus. Our experience to date has been that our test is extremely sensitive; a sampler covering several buildings housing a hundred or more people is capable of detecting a single individual shedding virus. This enables us to detect viral shedding and encourage COVID-19 testing as early as possible, so that infected individuals can get care, isolate themselves, and avoid infecting others. This is an important component of our multi-layered strategy that has helped UC San Diego avoid large clusters of infection.

How frequently are the buildings monitored?

UC San Diego collects and processes composite samples every day. The autosampler machines collect a sample every hour and the 24-hour composite sample is transported to the lab for processing. Occasionally, a building sample will not be able to be collected for a given day due to issues such as clogging, low flow, or other operational issues.

Is my building being monitored?

You can use the map on the COVID-19 Daily Dashboard to determine if your building is currently being monitored. We will be expanding our wastewater monitoring program to 200 samplers during winter quarter 2021, so if your building is not currently monitored it may be in the future. Unfortunately, we are not able to monitor every building on campus due to limitations in manhole suitability (placement, depth, etc.) and sampler numbers.

Is there a positive wastewater signal associated with my building?

You can use the map on the COVID-19 Daily Dashboard to determine if your building is currently being monitored, and if so, the status of the wastewater signal associated with the building.

What does it mean when it says my building is associated with a positive wastewater signal?

If your building is associated with a positive wastewater signal, it may mean that there are one or more infected individuals in the building.

If my building is associated with a positive wastewater signal, does it mean there is definitely someone infected inside?

Because multiple buildings can feed wastewater into a single sampler, a positive signal in a building does not necessarily mean there is someone infected inside your building. Further, in some cases individuals who have recovered from their SARS-CoV-2 infection can continue to shed virus into the wastewater for several weeks after they have recovered. These individuals who are no longer infectious can, in some circumstances, contribute to a positive wastewater signal.

If there is a positive signal in my building what should I do?

If you have visited a building on campus associated with a positive wastewater signal on that day, out of an abundance of caution, you should get tested promptly.

If the signal persists in a building you visit more than once a week, twice-weekly testing is recommended. For more information on testing, visit the Testing and Screening page.

If you develop covid-19 symptoms, please wear a mask and reconsider socializing with others while you await test results.

Will you tell us if you find an infected individual in my building?

Information on the location of detected cases at UC San Diego can be found on the COVID-19 Daily Dashboard.

I can see there was a positive signal associated with my building, but I did not receive an email alert. Why?

We are currently adapting our wastewater notification process given epidemiological conditions and development of our data systems. Please check the dashboard regularly for information. 

Contact Tracing

What is contact tracing and why is it important?

Contact tracing is an activity that is commonly done to interrupt transmission of communicable diseases or diseases that are passed from one person to another. It is critically important in interrupting transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

Contact tracing involves interviewing individuals who are infected and identifying their close contacts. Close contacts of an infected person are individuals who have been within six feet of the person who has the infection for more than 15 minutes or anyone who has come in contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

How does contact tracing happen at UC San Diego?

As per the CDC’s newest guidelines, UC San Diego will no longer be implementing universal contact tracing efforts. Students and campus employees will no longer be contacted by the UC San Diego Public Health Team to confirm exposures to COVID-19 as they previously were unless they are associated with a high-risk event. This updated guidance is in response to changes in the nature of the pandemic and the increasing availability of new tools to prevent transmission and mitigate illness.

UC San Diego has safety requirements for everyone who is on campus, including physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and proper hand hygiene and sanitation. Individuals are unlikely to become a close contact of a newly infected person on campus as long as there is widespread adherence to campus safety requirements.

Whether you are in a classroom, a residential hall, or an office on the campus, the key is to stay physically distant, wear a face covering, and to do so for all of the time you are together. Otherwise if an infection appears in the area you're working in, you run the risk of becoming a close contact.

How do you communicate with contacts?

While UC San Diego is no longer reaching out directly, we still highly encourage individuals with confirmed positive cases to notify their close contacts that they need to quarantine, monitor for symptoms, and get tested ASAP.

Learn about how to share quarantine information with your close contacts on the Exposure and Isolation webpage

What information is shared with contacts and how do you maintain patient confidentiality?

When a person becomes infected, their name and contact information is documented by their healthcare provider using standard privacy and health protections. They are also interviewed about their close contacts and advised on health and prevention measures. Close contacts may receive a phone call to inform them that they have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Confidentiality of the infected person is maintained.

Someone I know and interacted with was tested for COVID-19 but their results are not yet known. What should I do?

Use the daily symptom and exposure screener tool to indicate that you may have been exposed. You will receive an email/message with a link to schedule a PCR test or you can also call the UC San Diego’s Testing Support Line at 619-543-8260 and a representative will help you determine if you should be tested sooner than your next scheduled test. COVID-19 tests are offered at no cost if conducted at a UC San Diego Health location or a COVID-19 test kit vending machine.

Please see the Isolation webpage for specific quarantine instructions based on your vaccination status and affiliation.

Please note that quarantine instructions are different for healthcare workers. If you are a healthcare worker, you should refer to Pulse for quarantine instructions.

The Isolation website offers further information.

Someone I know and interacted with was diagnosed with COVID-19. What should I do?

Guidelines for fully vaccinated campus employees and students who have been exposed to COVID-19, as well as guidance for unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated campus employees and students, are available on the Isolation webpage.

I have been told by a health professional that I meet the criteria for exposure to COVID-19 and that I should quarantine. Do I need to conduct a test also?

Yes, a test will help determine if you will require isolation housing and additional clinical guidance and support. If your test is positive, you can help others by determining if any other individuals were exposed to the virus.

What is the difference between contact tracing and exposure notification?

These two terms are commonly confused. Contact tracing is a very specific method for public health intervention that requires in-depth investigation of potential exposure, risk for severe disease, and risk for transmission of the virus to others.

Alternatively, exposure notification is usually conducted completely digitally on an opt-in basis. This process involves the use of smartphones to create a log of potential close contacts. The individual would enable this feature—via Bluetooth technology—and would only connect to other smartphones that have also enabled the same system. If one person becomes infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a message would be sent to those enabled smartphones that they might have been exposed to someone with the virus in the last two weeks. Learn more and download CA Notify on your smartphone.

Campus Safety Protocols

How is the University monitoring for outbreaks?

Every evening, the COVID Monitoring Team reviews all of the cases that have occurred at the university in the last 24 hours, along with all of the particular circumstances and outcomes, and provides recommendations to the COVID Response Team, which determines what actions might be needed to further promote public health on campus. Response time, student and staff compliance, and overall transmission risks are all being monitored. Several data-points are shared on the Return to Learn Dashboard

How many free KN95 masks can I pick up on campus for my lab and/or team?

Mask pick-up is meant for individual use. If masks are needed for a department, lab or team, they should work with their department on ordering masks following the website guidance on how to order via Oracle. 

Details for ordering PPE through Oracle Procurement are available on the Masking and Operations webpage.

If a meeting of 10 people occurs in a room, they may be unmasked, but if a class of 10 people meets in the same room, they must be masked. Why?

Campus leadership decided, based on a variety of factors, that indoor instructional settings were more appropriate to retain masking. Meeting organizers should consider hybrid/Zoom options when there are not aspects of the meeting that need to happen in person.

Can a faculty member or staff request/require people in their offices to be masked?  

No. Departments/supervisors, faculty members etc. cannot be more restrictive than campus policy. When someone in a power role, i.e. leader, TA, supervisor, etc., makes that suggestion in many ways will come across or be perceived as a directive. The faculty member or staff can make the individual decision to mask. This will often signal to others your preference.

Can faculty require students in their lab to mask?

Yes, if it is an instructional lab. No, if it is a research lab.

We no longer have to mask indoors. Can we have food and drink at indoor meetings now?

Yes. Food and drink is allowed indoors at meetings. Food and drink is not allowed in instructional settings. 

What is an "instructional setting?”

An instructional setting is where attendance is for instructional purposes and is required.

Where can I learn more about the difference between masks?

Please see the Face Coverings Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 webpage to learn more about face coverings as a public protective measure against COVID-19. 

Can a department or faculty/staff Supervisor be more restrictive than campus policy?

No. All departments, faculty/staff should follow the campus policy and not create separate localized policies or rules. 

Can grads request/require 199 students to be masked when working with them?

No. The same campus policy rules apply to all – visitors, affiliates, or 199 students.

Are office hours instructional settings?

Yes, if the office hour is considered part of instruction and required.

How will UC San Diego prevent students from gathering or attending large parties and what will be the consequences for those who do?

The campus is deploying several student engagement and support strategies to encourage good decisions and compliance with our Student Code of Conduct which has been revised to reflect the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Examples include:

  • Triton Health Ambassadors: embedded and off-campus to advance social norming and compliance campaigns.
  • Student-led marketing and communications, including student “pledge” and community-focused efforts.
  • Social media content, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter and student-created TikTok videos.
  • Town halls.
  • Landlord communication: outreach to share campus processes and protocols.
  • COVID-19 training for employee and student safety awareness.
  • Clear expectations via direct communication to parents and students.
  • Supporting student success with accessible testing
  • COVID-19 residential roommate agreements.
Non-compliance is subject to progressive engagement and discipline, in accordance with appropriate policies and processes for students.

What steps are being taken to ensure classroom safety?

  • Self sanitation: installed sanitation stations at all campus core building main entrances; monitor soap and paper towel supply in restrooms regularly.
  • Touch free entrances: installation of touchless door entries at all major entrances and hand-free faucets and soap dispensers.
  • Ventilation: maximize flow of outside air to the greatest extent possible. Retrofitted 95% of core-funded buildings with hospital-grade filters. Preventative maintenance and ongoing disinfection.
  • Cleanliness: disinfection of high traffic areas like door handles, buttons and water fountains on a daily (if not more frequent) basis. 

Learn more about the Facilities Management response to the pandemic.

Can you describe the safety measures being taken in regard to cleaning protocols, PPE and general campus operations?

Throughout the pandemic, Resource Management and Planning (RMP) has continued to safely deliver essential services to the campus. Full information about campus safety operations can be found here.

What is the cleaning process if someone working on campus tests positive for COVID-19?

UC San Diego employees are now receiving a daily email with the subject line, “Required Daily Notification of Potential Workplace Exposure Locations.” When UC San Diego receives notice that an individual infected with COVID‐19 was present at a UC San Diego worksite, the impacted locations are shared on the UC San Diego COVID Daily Dashboard. The university is required to notify employees daily about potential exposures, in accordance with California law.

UC San Diego Environment, Health and Safety (EH&S) will coordinate with the supervisor and Facilities Management for cleaning and disinfection of workspaces, equipment, and common surface areas such as elevator buttons, doors, and high contact areas. Work areas where the positive individual spent significant time will be closed or have restricted access until the facility is cleaned/disinfected. This is evaluated on a case-by-case basis according to the information provided by the individual who tested positive and the supervisor. Occupants in the affected area will be notified to vacate by department officials until cleaning and disinfection has been completed and is safe to return. Disinfection typically takes less than 24 hours during the work week but could take up to 48 hours.

The workspace cleaning and disinfection protocols follow the CDC guidance framework that includes an operational assessment and scope of cleaning assessment. The cleaning/disinfection process is based on the timeline of occupancy in the space, type of space, utilization of space, symptoms, and mask usage. Responsiveness to Emergency Operations Center communication is the best step to initiate the process to assess the situation and develop the appropriate plan and procedures for cleaning and disinfection.

Privacy

What is employee health and who manages it?

UC San Diego Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) delivers comprehensive services for employees, including on-site physicals, consults, tests, and vaccinations, which are all UC San Diego employer-paid services to meet the employer’s health and safety responsibilities under OSHA and labor laws.

Where are the most up-to-date privacy practices described for the Campus Employee Health Management Program?

The most-up-to-date privacy practices can be found at the Employee Health Management Program Privacy Practices webpage.

What is the difference between how my electronic health record will be used for employee health management purposes and my own personal health management?

Your electronic health record will be used for two separate purposes: your personal health care, if you choose to receive care from UC San Diego Health, and for employer-paid health management purposes. A personal patient medical record is created by a health care provider when a person receives medical treatment from a health care provider. An employee health record is used any time an employer has to keep health and safety records that contain health information about employees. Examples of this kind of information would be notes for sick leave, disability limitations for disability accommodations, mandatory vaccinations and health tests, etc.

UC San Diego Health has implemented specific administrative and technical privacy and security safeguards that limit employee health from viewing your full personal health record and information. For example, employee health will not be able to see your personal physician notes because technical safeguard barriers have been put in place to separate employee health information from personal health information.

At UC San Diego, for employees who work in Health Sciences, it has been standard practice for many years for employee health records to be stored in the same electronic system as personal patient records to ensure that those employee health records receive a high level of privacy and security. This benefit has not historically been available to UC San Diego employees who work on the main campus and at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, but for COVID-19 related information, campus employees will have their employee health records stored in the same manner so that their records receive the same level of confidentiality and privacy protection as the records of health employees. Campus HR, your department, and supervisor do not and will not have access to Epic, the electronic health recordkeeping system.

Why am I being asked for permission to use my Social Security Number?

One of the biggest challenges for any recordkeeping system is ensuring that records are accurate. With tens of thousands of employees and hundreds of thousands of patients at UC San Diego, it is inevitable that many people will share the same name and sometimes even the same date of birth. As a result, it is possible for a recordkeeping system to accidentally associate records with the wrong person. Use of Social Security Numbers helps reduce the risk of this kind of misidentification by providing another data point that is unique to each individual.

Am I required to authorize use of my SSN? What happens if I don’t consent?

You are not required to authorize use of your SSN. This request is made under the authority of the Regents of the University of California under Art. IX, Sec. 9 of the California Constitution. You may opt out of allowing use of your SSN by unchecking on the registration form the “I agree to share my social security number (SSN) with the University of California Health System” checkbox at the bottom of the form. For employees who opt out of sharing their SSN, their SSN will NOT be used. In that case, an employee health record will be created using name, date of birth, address, and gender.

My supervisor told me participation in the Campus Health Management Program is mandatory. Can you specify what parts of the program are required?

If you will be physically on-site, you are required to complete the daily symptom and exposure screening survey. If you will be physically on-site, and you test positive for COVID-19 (at UC San Diego Health or anywhere else), you are required to notify the UC San Diego Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) at COEMexposure@health.ucsd.edu so that they can coordinate with public health and the contact tracing team for case investigation/contact tracing, monitor symptoms, and provide release from work and return to work documentation if seen at COEM. Use of your SSN is voluntary, and you have the ability to opt-out. For those who opt-out, an employee health record will be created using name, date of birth, address and gender. If you would like to take advantage of UC San Diego’s program of no-cost COVID-19 testing and vaccine, when it is available, you must have an employee health record.

What happens if I don’t complete the Work and Health Management Registration form?

If not completed, employees will receive a short notice upon logging into any application that uses UC San Diego’s Single Sign-On (SSO) functionality. For those who do not register by August 20, 2020 we will assume that they have chosen not to allow use of their SSN for the creation of an employee health record.

I am not a UC San Diego Health patient. Why does an electronic health record need to be created for me?

An employee health record is used to manage employer health and safety compliance requirements, such as tests and vaccines paid for by the employer (as opposed to payments through insurance), as well as documentation of compliance with mandatory health requirements such as vaccinations and medical tests, regardless of where those health services are obtained. As with any employer that has health and safety requirements, these records must be maintained in a secure and protected environment.

I am planning on receiving a COVID-19 test and vaccine, when it’s available, from my own non-UC San Diego healthcare provider. Why does an electronic health record need to be created for me?

An employee health record is used to manage employer health and safety compliance requirements, such as tests and vaccines paid for by the employer (as opposed to payments through insurance), as well as documentation of compliance with mandatory health requirements such as vaccinations and medical tests, regardless of where those health services are obtained. As with any employer that has health and safety requirements, these records must be maintained in a secure and protected environment.

I am working remotely for the foreseeable future. Why does an electronic medical record for me need to be created or my existing electronic health record be flagged as an employee?

An employee health record is used to manage employer health and safety compliance requirements, such as tests and vaccines paid for by the employer (as opposed to payments through insurance), as well as documentation of compliance with mandatory health requirements such as vaccinations and medical tests, regardless of where those health services are obtained. As with any employer that has health and safety requirements, these records must be maintained in a secure and protected environment. The creation of the employee health record will greatly expedite this process when you do return to campus.

I am an existing UC San Diego Health patient. What will my employer see in my personal patient record?

Nothing. However, your employer will be notified whether you are compliant with employee health management requirements, such as vaccinations.

Your personal health care provider (i.e., your PCP) will be able to see your entire medical record in Epic in order to provide you with comprehensive care.

“Blinders” will be on for COEM users. When COEM staff log into Epic and open your chart, we change their view of Epic. We limit where they can go within your chart and change their view so they can only see employee health related info, such as notes from employee health (not from your personal physician), COVID testing, vaccinations and other mandated employee health requirements. We put in technological guardrails so COEM can’t see your full medical record.

Return to Learn facilitators do not have access to your EHR record. However, they will receive aggregated reports and extracts of employees' health info to show things like compliance with mandates and COVID positive rates for campus employees. They will not get any information about your personal health information.

HR and/or supervisors do not have access to your EHR record. However, they may get notifications for clearances to return to work and compliance with employee health mandates. They will not get any information about your personal health information.

I am an existing UC San Diego Health patient. Will my personal healthcare provider at UC San Diego Health see my employee health record?

Yes, your personal UC San Diego Health provider will see your employee health record, such as vaccinations and COVID-19 test results, in order to provide comprehensive care to you.

Your personal health care provider (i.e., your PCP) will be able to see your entire medical record in Epic in order to provide you with comprehensive care.

“Blinders” will be on for COEM users. When COEM staff log into Epic and open your chart, we change their view of Epic. We limit where they can go within your chart and change their view so they can only see employee health related info, such as notes from employee health (not from your personal physician), COVID testing, vaccinations and other mandated employee health requirements. We put in technological guardrails so COEM can’t see your full medical record.

Return to Learn facilitators do not have access to your EHR record. However, they will receive aggregated reports and extracts of employees' health info to show things like compliance with mandates and COVID positive rates for campus employees. They will not get any information about your personal health information.

HR and/or supervisors do not have access to your EHR record. However, they may get notifications for clearances to return to work and compliance with employee health mandates. They will not get any information about your personal health information.

Why will my employee health information be housed in Epic?

UC San Diego values the privacy of its employees and wants to offer a high level of privacy and security for personal information. The Epic electronic health system complies with the very strict privacy and security requirements of HIPAA, is monitored by UC San Diego Information Security, is regularly audited by the UC San Diego Office of Privacy and Compliance, and is the most secure record-keeping system that we have for health information. COEM leverages this secure system to manage employee health. COEM is already involved with the campus employee health management, where the record system that is used is Epic. Epic is the most efficient and secure system to manage employee health information.

What information will be stored in my employee health record?

All employer-paid tests and vaccinations, as well as documentation of such tests and vaccinations received from other health care providers, will be stored in your employee health record.

Is my employee health information disclosed outside of UC San Diego?

Your employee health information may be disclosed to governmental licensing, auditing, and accrediting agencies, as authorized or required by law.

What information in my electronic health record related to employee health will be accessible or visible to HR or my supervisor?

Nothing; HR and your supervisor will NOT have access to your electronic health record. However, Campus HR and your supervisor will receive documentation of whether you are cleared to return to work or on-site and compliance with testing and vaccination requirements.

Will my electronic health record for employee health management purposes be used for research?

Human subjects research is governed by federal law and regulations and subject to review and approval by UC San Diego’s Institutional Review Board. The confidentiality of electronic health records is guaranteed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Electronic health records may only be used for research purposes in accordance with applicable regulations and University policies.

The use of electronic health record data is essential for clinical research. Similarly, pandemic related surveillance is essential in protecting our workforce while we pursue our missions as a University. The electronic health record (EHR) is a key technology for both endeavors, but this creates potential privacy concerns as employees will have EHR records that can be used for clinical research without explicit consent subject to specific controls set forth under federal and state law.

To allay these concerns, we are implementing a mechanism to automatically exclude employee EHR records from data extractions for clinical research that involves a waiver of HIPAA authorization. This exclusion will apply to both to UCSD employees who only have a record on the basis of employee health pandemic surveillance as well as those who routinely receive care at UCSD Health and have a full patient record.

The technical control to be used will be a VIP employee flag to be set in all employee EHR records. This flag will designate that record as excluded from an EHR based “Research Registry”, which will be established as the allowable cohort for clinical research data extractions conducted under waiver of HIPAA authorization. Going forward, the Clinical Research Information Officer will work with the Office of Compliance and Privacy and the Associate Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences Research to review this process on a regular basis in the event further adjustments are needed to ensure employees who have records in our EHR have the opportunity to participate in research, if they desire, while continuing to preserve the privacy of those who have not assented through a HIPAA authorization.

To whom will employee test results be disclosed outside of UC San Diego?

Positive COVID-19 test results are reported to public health agencies, such as San Diego County public health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as required by law. We may disclose your information to governmental licensing, auditing, regulatory, and accrediting agencies, as authorized or required by law. International students, scholars, and post-docs, please see below.

I’m an international student, scholar, or post-doc. With whom do you share my COVID-19 test result?

As required by the U.S. Department of State, we are required to report any positive cases of a communicable disease to the State Department within 24 hours.

If I test positive for COVID-19, will my contact tracing information be in my electronic health record?

No, this information is kept in a secure database, separate from your electronic health record.

Is my case investigation information used for employment purposes?

No. Your case investigation information does not impact your employment. Case investigation is a public health process to determine if an individual with a communicable or infectious disease has exposed others to that disease.

In the process of case investigation, if we identify other persons exposed, will their information be shared with government agencies?

There is mandatory reporting to the San Diego County Department of Public Health of individuals who are positive-SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 and of their close contacts.

In the process of case investigation, if we identify other persons exposed, who has access to my contact list?

UC San Diego Family Medicine and Public Health, COEM, and Student Health Services have access to the contact information.

What protections are in place for my employee health information?

We maintain technical, physical, and administrative safeguards to protect the security, integrity, and privacy of employee health records in Epic, including the following practices:

  • To ensure even more privacy protection for UC San Diego employees and students, the records of all UC San Diego employees and students stored in Epic will be coded at the “break the glass” level of privacy protection. Records coded as “break the glass” require a specific justification for access;
  • Electronic health records are subject to frequent privacy audits by UC San Diego’s Office of Compliance and Privacy;
  • UC San Diego Health adheres to University of California requirements described in IS-3 UCOP Policy (Electronic Information Security) in order to secure your information;
  • Information is housed on systems stored in controlled facilities with limited access;
  • Encryption, such as the Secure Socket Layer (SSL), is used to protect the transmission of your information over the Internet;
  • Security technologies and procedures are used to help protect your personal information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosures;
  • Data access is limited only to authorized personnel;
  • All authorized personnel are informed of their obligation to maintain the privacy, security, and confidentiality of information;
  • All authorized UC San Diego Health personnel who will have access to your electronic health record are trained in privacy and security obligations.

Your personal health care provider (i.e., your PCP) will be able to see your entire medical record in Epic in order to provide you with comprehensive care.

“Blinders” will be on for COEM users. When COEM staff log into Epic and open your chart, we change their view of Epic. We limit where they can go within your chart and change their view so they can only see employee health related info, such as notes from employee health (not from your personal physician), COVID testing, vaccinations and other mandated employee health requirements. We put in technological guardrails so COEM can’t see your full medical record.

Return to Learn facilitators do not have access to your EHR record. However, they will receive aggregated reports and extracts of employees' health info to show things like compliance with mandates and COVID positive rates for campus employees. They will not get any information about your personal health information.

HR and/or supervisors do not have access to your EHR record. However, they may get notifications for clearances to return to work and compliance with employee health mandates. They will not get any information about your personal health information.

How will you make sure that my personal patient information is not accessible by my employer?

HR and your supervisor will not have access to your electronic health record. However, your supervisor will be notified of your clearance to return to work and compliance with various employee health requirements (i.e., flu vaccine).

Neither Campus HR nor supervisors have access to your EHR record. However, they may get notifications for clearances to return to work, compliance with employee health mandates. They will not get any information about your personal health information. Please see the diagram above for who has access to what information in your electronic health records.

How long will you maintain my employee health information?

Your employee health information will be maintained for 20 years. For more information, please see the Campus Health Management Privacy Practices Page.

How will this impact my insurance plans and premiums?

The employer-paid COVID test and results will not be shared with your insurance carriers.

I understand the benefits of the program and the safeguards provided through Epic. However, I still do not want an electronic health record created for me or my personal patient record associated with my status as an employee. What are the consequences of that?

One of UC San Diego’s signature public-health initiatives and something that we believe will set UC San Diego apart from all other institutions of higher education in the country is our plan to offer a program of broad asymptomatic testing for students, faculty, and staff to detect the presence of the novel coronavirus. Significantly and uniquely, tests provided by UC San Diego Health will be at no cost to participating students, faculty, and staff, and perhaps equally important, we are striving to make test results available in as little as 24 hours, which would be far quicker than most other testing facilities can deliver. Those who do not have an employee health record will not be eligible for the benefits of the program, such as no-cost COVID-19 testing. They will still be required to provide proof of employment-related health requirements (e.g., COVID-19 positive test results, vaccinations) but will not be able to take advantage of the technical protections offered through Epic.

Who do I contact if I have more questions?

If you have any questions about:

Will I be automatically notified if someone that works in my facility on campus tests positive for COVID-19?

Current health privacy rules restrict automatic notifications of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 to employees working in the same building.

How is informed consent obtained for any research use of the data?

The use of electronic health record data is essential for clinical research. Similarly, pandemic related surveillance is essential in protecting our workforce while we pursue our missions as a University. The electronic health record (EHR) is a key technology for both endeavors, but this creates potential privacy concerns as employees will have EHR records that can be used for clinical research without explicit consent subject to specific controls set forth under federal and state law.

To allay these concerns, we are implementing a mechanism to automatically exclude employee EHR records from data extractions for clinical research that involves a waiver of HIPAA authorization. This exclusion will apply to both to UCSD employees who only have a record on the basis of employee health pandemic surveillance as well as those who routinely receive care at UCSD Health and have a full patient record.

The technical control to be used will be a VIP employee flag to be set in all employee EHR records. This flag will designate that record as excluded from an EHR based “Research Registry”, which will be established as the allowable cohort for clinical research data extractions conducted under waiver of HIPAA authorization. Going forward, the Clinical Research Information Officer will work with the Office of Compliance and Privacy and the Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences to review this process on a regular basis in the event further adjustments are needed to ensure employees who have records in our EHR have the opportunity to participate in research, if they desire, while continuing to preserve the privacy of those who have not assented through a HIPAA authorization.

Will individuals have to consent to changes in information gathered or access policies?

Changes will be communicated via the Privacy Statement and denoted with an updated effective date. Individuals will be asked to consent when a change requires consent.

How can individuals view and correct these records?

For all Protected Health Information that is stored within your Electronic Health Record, Your rights to inspect and request a copy, etc. can be found in the UC San Diego Health Notice of Privacy Practices.

What kinds of community input will be solicited to inform this process?

We welcome any questions and suggestions. We use Town Hall virtual meetings, newsletters, Return to Learn and Pulse websites to post information which always includes contact information for the community to pose questions, suggestions and concerns.

If screening information is not maintained in the electronic health records, where will they be kept?

The screening information is stored in the Qualtrics system, which is administered by UC San Diego Health Information Services.

Event Planning

Are we still requiring proof of vaccination at events?

No. We encourage vaccination or testing within 24 hours but we will not be checking for vaccination status.

Do I need a hold with a venue in order to fill out the Event and Activities Intake form?

Yes, securing a hold on a desired location is recommended and should be your first step in the intake process.

Who can fill out the Event and Activities Intake form?

Information and access to the Event and Activities Intake Form can be found on Blink and should be completed by the organizing faculty, staff, or student representative for the department, college, or student organization hosting the event. Center for Student Involvement Registered Student Organizations are not required to use the Events and Activities Intake form, however, they must start the Triton Activities Planner (TAP) at least 3 weeks prior to the event date.

Is there a limit on the capacity of outdoor events?

Mega events, defined as more than 10,000 people outdoor, are subject to special guidance, as outlined by the State of California. 

Is there a limit on the capacity of indoor events?

Mega events, defined as more than 5,000 people indoor, are subject to special guidance, as outlined by the State of California. 

Can I attend an Athletic event on campus?

Are tabling activities allowed?

Information tabling is permitted on Library Walk with a reservation from University Centers. Any tabling activity that is handing out items aside from information flyers must complete the Event & Activities Intake Form. 

Will pre-registration be required for all event attendees?

Yes, advance registration is required for campus events to support contact tracing efforts. Pre-registration is not required for event or activity attendees at this time, except in the case of mega events. Learn more on the COVID-19 Event Planning and Attendance page.

Will symptom screening be required to participate in events?

Yes, symptom screenings will be required in accordance with current campus screening protocols. Participants must have a green thumb to attend. Learn more on the COVID-19 Event Planning and Attendance page.

Everyone attending my event has been vaccinated, does my organization need to follow masking and campus guidelines?

At this time, all events are required to follow all of UC San Diego’s Return to Learn COVID-19 Campus Safety Requirements for their attendees and any staff or vendors supporting the event. 

Learn more on the COVID-19 Event Planning and Attendance page. 

Can food be consumed at events?

Can my department or student organization host an event off campus?

Yes. All off-campus private events must follow local and county guidelines.

Other Support

What resources are available to support employees with caregiving responsibilities?

Many in our community are balancing work, childcare and other caregiving responsibilities. Visit Parent and Family Resources to connect to information about programs and services within the UC community and beyond designed to support parents and families during COVID-19.

You can also visit Resources for Families at Home to connect to regional childcare programs, virtual entertainment opportunities, the Early Care & Education virtual classroom, and additional resources to help caregivers during this difficult time. Check out the Community Activities page for information related to K-12 closures, at-home activities for all, and virtual community events.

Faculty are welcome to join the several groups available to connect with and support fellow Triton caregivers, including 0-5 working moms and eldercare. Visit Support for Parents and Caregivers for details about the different support groups or check out the Parents, Guardians & Caregivers Association.

Early Care & Education aims to resume operations as safely and efficiently as possible. Be sure to visit Returning to Childcare during the COVID-19 Pandemic  for details from the Early Childhood and Education Center.

Is there a plan to increase resources at Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) for students?

Yes. In Spring 2021, students voted to approve the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) & Student Mental Health Fee Referendum, which will expand and increase the availability of CAPS and mental health services for all students, and increase funding to improve student mental health support and education. This is in addition to campus investments in new CAPS staff resources added in the Winter and Spring quarters, which expanded both in-person and telehealth opportunities. Faculty and staff also play a crucial role in helping to create a culture of care for UC San Diego students. For important resources for faculty and staff, please visit: Creating a Culture of Care: Resources for Faculty and Staff to Support Students in Distress.

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