COVID-19 Vaccine

Cal Poly is working closely with San Luis Obispo County Public Health to end this pandemic in our community. The authorized COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the virus. The university encourages everyone who can get the COVID-19 vaccine to learn more and get vaccinated when eligible. Employees and students are not currently required to be vaccinated.

We want to be sure the Cal Poly community has the resources to learn more about authorized vaccines, get questions answered, and take action as eligibility expands.

Preparing for vaccination | Second dose appointments | Vaccine facts | Transportation resources | Email a question

Who is eligible for vaccines in SLO County?

Visit the website for a current list of eligibility based on age, employment sector and other factors. Do you live outside of SLO County? Find your community’s COVID-19 page.

SLO County Community Members Ages 16+

San Luis Obispo County community members aged 16 and older, including Cal Poly students within that age group, are now eligible to sign up for the County’s COVID-19 vaccine registry to make a first-dose appointment.

  • What to bring: Students will need to bring a document showing your age (driver’s license, state ID, passport, birth certificate, etc.). If your ID corresponds to an address outside the county, bring a PolyCard to confirm student status.

At this time, vaccination does not exempt required students from Cal Poly's ongoing COVID-19 testing program on campus.

All Cal Poly Employees

All current Cal Poly employees, including student employees, who want to be vaccinated can now sign up for the county's Vaccine Appointment Registry for a first-dose appointment. University employees who live outside of San Luis Obispo County are still eligible for a vaccine at a county site based on their employment at Cal Poly.

  • What to bring: University employees will need to bring a recent pay stub and a photo ID with them to their appointment to confirm eligibility. Review these frequently asked questions to help prepare for your appointment.

People with Medical Conditions or a Disability

SLO County residents aged 16-64 with certain high-risk medical conditions or disabilities are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Visit the website for information on the specific conditions.

  • It is not currently necessary for residents in this group to provide specific paperwork or contact their health care providers for documentation of their condition. Vaccine will be available to those who can self-attest to having a one of the specific severe health conditions on this list, and to those with severe high-risk disabilities.

Vaccination Opportunities in SLO County

SLO County Public Health Vaccination Clinics

All eligible individuals can sign up for San Luis Obispo County's Vaccine Appointment Registry to get a first-dose appointment at one of the county’s three vaccine clinics at Cuesta College, the South County Regional Center in Arroyo Grande or at the Paso Robles Events Center. Sign up online via or by calling the County Phone Assistance Center at 805-543-2444 or 805-781-4280 (seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

Eligible people only need to sign up for the county's registry system once and will be contacted when an appointment is available. Those who are not selected will be notified regularly that they are still in the system for the next opportunity. The registry system prioritizes people based on risk factors, so it may take more than a week for new registrants to secure an appointment.

Getting vaccinated through SLO County's Public Health Department is free, does not involve health insurance, and does not require information about a person's immigration status. Visit for more information.

Local Pharmacies

Some local pharmacies have opened a limited number of COVID-19 vaccine appointments. The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department has more information about vaccines through local pharmacies on its website. Some vaccine providers that receive their vaccine allocation from the federal government rather than the county, such as Costco, CVS, and Rite Aid, might not offer vaccines to the 16 and older age group right away. However, they will likely open up vaccine appointments to this age group April 15, per California Department of Public Health recommendations. In the meantime, contact pharmacies directly to confirm they are providing appointments to your age group and to confirm what documentation you may need to bring to your appointment.

Second Dose Appointments

Some COVID-19 vaccines require two doses spaces several weeks apart. If you need to make a second-dose appointment for a vaccine through San Luis Obispo County's Public Health Department, visit the vaccine registration page on the website.

Any vaccine appointments made through Cal Poly's Ticket Office connected to the SLO County Public Health Department's vaccine roll out. Find more information about a second dose appointment at a county vaccine site on the website.

San Luis Obispo County's Public Health Department encourages everyone to plan on receiving a second dose, if needed, where they received their first dose, even if that requires travel back to a different county or state. Read the FAQ that outlines county guidance. If you received a first dose at a pharmacy, plan to get a second dose at that specific pharmacy. If you received a first dose through a county health department, plan to get a second dose through that county's public health department.

Transportation to Vaccination Appointments

SLO Transit buses offer routes in San Luis Obispo that can connect you to regional transit and is free to students with a PolyCard. SLO County's Regional Transit Authority (SLORTA) offers Route 12 to Cuesta College and Route 9 to Paso Robles and other cities throughout the county. Complimentary RTA Day Regional passes are available to Cal Poly students who need to commute to vaccination sites throughout the county. Passes are available via the Token Transit website. Select “Day Regional pass” and use the password "CalPolyCOVIDshot" (case insensitive) to download a complimentary pass. You can also rent a ZipCar on campus by the hour seven days a week. Cal Poly students get discounted rates and can rent at a minimum age of 18.

Preparing for Vaccination Appointments

How long do vaccination appointments take? What will I need to bring?

Appointments may up to an hour at county vaccination sites. There may be a short wait once you arrive at the site, and you will need to stay at the site at least 15 minutes after the vaccination for observation.

Getting vaccinated through San Luis Obispo County’s Public Health Department is free, it does not involve health insurance, and it does not require information about the recipient’s immigration status. If you are eligible due to your employment in higher education, you’ll need to verify your identity by showing a recent Cal Poly pay stub with a photo ID. If a pay stub is not available, employees can verify employment with a PolyCard that establishes your role at the university or Cal Poly badge specific to your job. Students should bring a photo ID that verifies date of birth and a PolyCard to confirm they are a Cal Poly student.

If possible, fill out, print and bring the medical screening form to your appointment at a county vaccination site to help quicken the process. The form should have been provided to you by SLO County Public Health when confirming your appointment.

For information on what to bring to a vaccination appointment at a local pharmacy, contact the pharmacy.

How do I access my pay stub?

Higher education employees need to show proof of employment at the vaccination site. The preferred method is through a recent pay stub and photo ID. State employees: go to the Cal Employee Connect page on the Payroll Services website. Corporation employees: go to the Cal Poly Portal and click CPC Paychecks. ASI employees: go to the Cal Poly Portal and click ASI Paychecks. If you’re having trouble, reach out to your human resources team. Pay stubs can be presented digitally or in print at the vaccination site.

What if I can't access a pay stub?

If a pay stub is not available, employees can verify employment with a PolyCard that establishes your role at the university or Cal Poly badge specific to your job.

Where are vaccination appointments taking place?

No vaccinations are taking place on Cal Poly's campus at this time. SLO County Public Health Department's vaccination sites are at the Paso Robles Event Center, the South County Regional Center in Arroyo Grande and Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo. Find a list of locations on the county website.

Do employees need to tell their manager they are getting vaccinated?

No. Time off to get vaccinated is treated like any medical appointment per an employee’s collective bargaining agreement. Employees don’t need to disclose that they're getting vaccinated. Managers have been encouraged to be flexible around medical appointments.

What vaccine will I receive at my appointment?

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department manages which vaccines will be given at its vaccination sites. Currently, the sites offer Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Find more information in the county's vaccine FAQ about different vaccines.

How do I schedule my second-dose appointment?

If you receive your first dose at a county vaccination site, find more information in the "Second-Dose Appointment" section of the vaccine registration page on the website. If you're vaccinated through a pharmacy, follow its instructions on scheduling a second dose there.

Does getting vaccinated exempt someone from Cal Poly's COVID-19 testing requirements?

At this time being fully vaccinated will not exempt a person from Cal Poly's twice weekly testing requirement. Please continue to test twice weekly with three days separation between tests.

How do I connect with SLO County's Public Health Department to ask a more specific question about vaccines?

Visit the Contact Us page on SLO County Public Health's website.

Facts About the Vaccines

At this time, three COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use from Pfizer and Moderna. Please explore information on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website about the benefits of vaccination, understanding different COVID-19 vaccines, the safety of the vaccines, allergies and frequently asked questions that may answer many questions and concerns you have.

Common Questions about Vaccines

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?

When your body is exposed to a virus, your immune system quickly gets to work fighting that infection. After the infection, your body remembers what it learned so it can protect you from getting sick again. Likewise, the COVID-19 vaccine will activate the immune response. But, the vaccine only contains one small part of the virus, serving as an instruction manual to train your immune system. This will generate immune memory which will then protect you from that disease if you are exposed in the future. It helps your body develop virus-fighting antibodies that will recognize and block infection by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Are the vaccines safe and effective?

Yes. All the research to date indicates that the authorized COVID-19 vaccines (from Pfizer and Moderna) are safe and highly effective. All three of the vaccines have undergone large scale phase three clinical trials. All of the authorized vaccines are 100% effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines demonstrate 94-95% efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. No one who received full immunization in any of the three trials was hospitalized with or died from COVID-19. In addition to receiving Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, the vaccines were separately vetted by California’s Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, who confirmed that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have met high standards for safety and efficacy. In addition, all vaccines are continuously monitored by the CDC and FDA for problems and potential side effects. The known and potential harms from becoming infected by the coronavirus outweigh potential safety risks of the vaccine.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine give me COVID-19?

No, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. None of the vaccines currently in use in the United States contain the live SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The immune response generated by the vaccine can cause symptoms or side effects in the process of building immunity. These side effects can include feeling tired, body aches and sometimes fever. This is normal and a sign that the immune system is working to build protections against the virus CDC Importantly, not all people will develop these side effects after vaccination, but the vaccine is still working.

What is a mRNA vaccine? Can it affect my DNA?

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is found in all living cells. mRNA vaccines, including the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19, work by harnessing your cells to make a viral protein that will then be presented to trigger an immune response inside your body. This immune response includes producing infection-fighting antibodies, specifically designed to protect you from getting infected with SARS-CoV-2 and developing symptoms of COVID-19.

mRNA is not the same as DNA and cannot combine with DNA to change your genetic code. Additionally, mRNA is relatively fragile, and only lasts in your cell for about 72 hours before degrading. mRNA vaccines do not affect or interact with DNA in any way, as mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, where DNA is stored. For more information on mRNA vaccines, see  Understanding and Explaining mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines (CDC).


Cal Poly is working closely with San Luis Obispo County as our community manages its vaccine roll out. A Cal Poly representative currently sits on the County’s Vaccine Task Force at its bi-weekly meetings and advocates for higher education, including our students, faculty and staff, as the county distributes vaccines within criteria set by the state of California. Read the task force’s meeting minutes, get to know its members, and submit a public comment or question through its website

Campus Planning

The university has formed a campus wide task force to explore the feasibility of dispensing vaccines on campus, as supported by local or state agencies. The task force, which represents students, faculty and staff from across campus, reviewed possible models for dispensing vaccines and how Cal Poly could prioritize a potentially limited supply of doses. Now, the task force is forming an operational plan to act swiftly and equitably as vaccines become available to members of our campus community.

Continue to Do Your Part

Currently and for the foreseeable future, regardless of vaccination status, everyday measures like face coverings and physical distancing will remain critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Even as more people are vaccinated, Cal Poly encourages everyone to do the following:   

  • Wear a face covering.
  • Practice physical distancing.
  • Avoid gathering with those outside your household. If you do, meeting outside is safer than gathering indoors.
  • Monitor your health and stay home if you are sick.
  • Follow campus testing protocol, if required. Learn about Cal Poly’s ongoing testing program.
  • Wash your hands though out the day and sanitize frequently touched surfaces.

We ask everyone in the Cal Poly community — on campus or off — to recommit to these measures and continue to do your part every day. Your actions matter: they continue to save lives and will help our community end the pandemic. 

For information on San Luis Obispo County’s public health response, visit

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