Student Vaccination Updates
Last week, we shared a brief update with faculty and staff about changes to the State of Illinois vaccination eligibility guidelines. This message provides additional details related to vaccines for students – including current efforts at Northwestern and expectations for the coming weeks. We will provide more updates as they are available.
Student Eligibility for Vaccination
Most students will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine April 12, when the State of Illinois opens eligibility to all individuals 16 and older. This is an exciting development and reinforces our optimism about the months ahead.
Some students are eligible now, including:
- Students working in clinical healthcare settings or interacting with patients
- Student teachers working in K-12 schools
- Students with medical conditions prioritized in phase 1b+
On Tuesday, the State of Illinois and City of Chicago Public Health Departments also verbally confirmed that graduate students who are current teaching assistants or research assistants are eligible for vaccination alongside higher education faculty and staff. In Evanston, those graduate students are eligible now, and in Chicago, they become eligible Monday, March 29. Qualifying students can indicate that they qualify under phase 1b higher education if asked during registration.
At this stage, the state’s rollout continues to follow a mass-vaccination strategy, with employers like Northwestern playing a limited role in initial vaccination efforts. Based on feedback from public health officials, we expect vaccine supply to continue to increase through April and May.
While everybody soon will be eligible, it will take time for supply to meet the demand. There will eventually be enough vaccine for anyone who wants to be vaccinated. We ask that you be patient as the vaccine rollout continues. All community members—those vaccinated and not—should continue to practice the public health strategies that have helped us maintain a healthy campus environment.
NU Vaccination Site Activity
As previously shared, Northwestern has developed a vaccine clinic on the Evanston campus, currently situated in Norris, to administer the vaccine to members of the Northwestern community. While vaccine supply remains low, we are grateful our partners from the City of Evanston Health and Human Services are continuing to allocate a share of their supply to Northwestern. We have administered every dose of vaccine the city has given us on the day we received it.
To date, onsite efforts have focused primarily on faculty and staff age 65 and older, and some staff and Compass food service employees who qualify as frontline essential workers in phase 1b. We also have vaccinated some students who qualify in phase 1a or 1b, as noted above. In the days ahead, we will be inviting more community members below age 65.
We are actively advocating for more supply to be allocated to us and look forward to increasing our vaccination efforts as soon as possible. As that happens, we plan to prioritize invitees by age, starting with the oldest, in alignment with public health recommendations. We also will adopt local strategies to ensure vaccine equity, such as inviting those who live in the most at-risk ZIP codes as defined by Chicago Department of Public Health.
Other Ways to Get Vaccinated
Most community members likely will be vaccinated at locations not associated with Northwestern, especially in the next two months. We encourage you to get vaccinated wherever you can, using the resources outlined below:
- The State of Illinois website and the Northwestern website provide information about a number of vaccination locations.
- Northwestern and the City of Evanston entered into a partnership to utilize a campus location as a community mass vaccination space. Complete Evanston’s Vaccination Contact Form so that they invite you to an event as soon as it is available.
- Cook County mass vaccination sites are available for most Northwestern community members. Sign up here to register for vaccine appointments at these sites.
- The City of Chicago has partnered with Zocdoc to facilitate access to the vaccine. You can visit the Zocdoc website to determine whether you qualify for the vaccine and identify locations with open vaccine appointments.
- Most healthcare providers are offering vaccine appointments to their patients. Ask your provider if they have any open appointments.
- If you are still having trouble, the state has launched a multilingual, toll-free Vaccine Appointment Call Center at 833-621-1284.
Federal, state and local public health guidance, including for those who are vaccinated, will continue to develop. To best enact informed public health strategies for the Spring, Summer and Fall Terms, it will be helpful to understand how much of our community has been vaccinated.
Any student who becomes fully vaccinated through a location other than Northwestern University is encouraged to disclose to the University (1) the type of vaccine received (e.g. Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) and (2) the date(s) of vaccination. Students can complete their disclosures here.
These disclosures are entirely voluntary. This information will be securely maintained and accessible only to those who need access to it due to their role and responsibilities at Northwestern. At this time, we expect to use this information to support our continued management of the pandemic. Examples of how this information may be used include:
- At an aggregate level to understand the percentage of the community that has been vaccinated.
- To determine how vaccine rates might impact the ability to hold in-person classes, events or other campus activities.
- To inform the need for ongoing testing and quarantine/isolation housing.
- To inform potential adjustments to requirements for using Symptom Tracker.
- To supplement the case management and contact tracing process, and to ensure appropriate handling of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated community members.
For a number of reasons, at this time, Northwestern is not requiring students, faculty or staff to be vaccinated in order to access campus. However, as noted above, we strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they are able.
In the future, we may require vaccination to participate in certain activities or access certain spaces at the University. We understand that there are medical, religious and other reasons that may prevent a person from being vaccinated. Those concerns will be taken into account when deciding whether to require vaccination and would be addressed through an appropriate accommodations process.
For now, we are asking you to voluntarily share your vaccination information. This will help us better understand who has received the vaccine, appropriately strategize for the protection of our broader community, and develop a process to return to a more typical campus environment over the summer and fall.
If you have questions, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Response times may be delayed based on the volume of inquiries.
Thank you again for everything you are doing to keep yourself and our community safe.
Senior Associate VP
Chief Risk and Compliance Officer