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Vaccine Booster

After consultation with public health officials and its own infectious disease experts, Northwestern announced on Dec. 20, 2021 that, subject to limited exceptions, all students, faculty and staff were required to obtain a COVID-19 booster shot by Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022. mRNA boosters (Pfizer and Moderna) are strongly encouraged, and only boosters approved by the FDA are accepted.

Northwestern’s COVID-19 booster requirement does not apply to people who have previously received a non-temporary exception to Northwestern’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement, including those who have personal medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent them from being vaccinated. Visit the Vaccination Requirement FAQs for more information.

COVID-19 Booster Eligibility 

Boosters are available to individuals who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine or a Pfizer or Moderna series of COVID-19 vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend boosters at least five months after completion of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccination, and two months after Johnson & Johnson.


COVID-19 Booster Availability

  • Available at most pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS and Jewel-Osco
  • Available through Northwestern Medicine
    • Patients can make an appointment via MyChart

FAQs

Updated April 8, 2022

Does Northwestern require booster shots?

Subject to limited exceptions, faculty and staff who work on campus and students must obtain a COVID-19 vaccination booster by Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, or 30 days after becoming eligible, whichever is later. MRNA boosters (Pfizer and Moderna) are strongly encouraged, and only boosters approved by the FDA are accepted. Faculty and staff who have recently uploaded proof of vaccination—even those who already had booster shots—should do so again via the booster form.

Northwestern’s COVID-19 booster requirement does not apply to people who have previously received a non-temporary exception to Northwestern’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement, including those who have personal medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent them from being vaccinated. As appropriate, Northwestern will engage with union representatives to discuss application of this requirement to union-represented employees. Please visit our Vaccination Requirement FAQs for more information.

How do I report my booster shot to Northwestern if I get one?

Please attest to your booster and upload your documentation online.

Does Northwestern offer boosters directly to faculty, staff and students?

Northwestern does not currently offer booster shot clinics.

Who can receive a booster shot?

Per guidance from the CDC, everyone ages 12+ can get a booster shot. If you received the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you can receive a booster at least 5 months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series. If you received Johnson & Johnson, you can receive a booster at least 2 months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination. If you received a non-FDA approved vaccine, see the question below about receiving a booster if you were vaccinated outside of the U.S.

What booster shot am I able to receive?

Per guidance from the CDC, if you are 12 years and older, you may receive a Pfizer booster shot. If you are 18 years or older, you may choose which COVID-19 vaccine you receive as a booster shot. Some people may prefer the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix-and-match dosing for booster shots.

I was vaccinated outside of the U.S. When can I receive my booster?

Per guidance from the CDC, if you completed a Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine primary series outside of the United States you should follow the guidance above for booster shots.

Otherwise, if you were vaccinated abroad with other COVID-19 vaccines you can get a booster shot if you are 12 years or older and you either:

  • Received all the recommended doses of a World Health Organization emergency use listing (WHO-EUL) COVID-19 vaccine, not approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Or completed a mix and match series composed of any combination of FDA-approved, FDA-authorized, or WHO-EUL COVID-19 vaccines

If you meet the above requirements, you can get a single booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least 5 months after getting all recommended doses or completing a mix-and-match COVID-19 vaccine series.

Can I schedule a booster appointment online if I have a WHO-approved vaccine?

Even though, per CDC guidance, those who received a non-FDA but WHO-approved vaccine are eligible to receive a Pfizer booster at least five months after their second dose, major pharmacies will not allow appointments to be scheduled online at this time.

  • For CVS, you will need to follow the steps to make an appointment online, select Not Listed/Other for their vaccine and then call the provided number to make an appointment through the pharmacy.
  • For Walgreens, call 1-800-Walgreens (1-800-925-4733) to make a booster appointment.
  • For Jewel Osco, booster appointments can be made through their online chat. (https://www.jewelosco.com/mobile-chat.html)

Community members can also locate pop-up vaccine sites at https://myshotcookcounty.com/.

Where can NU community members go to receive a booster?

Community members can receive their booster at a local pharmacy (CVS/Walgreens/Osco/etc.). They should bring identification and proof of their previous dose(s) and vaccine manufacturer(s) to their appointment. Insurance is not required to receive a booster vaccine.

Appointments can also be made on https://www.vaccines.gov/:

  • Step 1: Visit vaccines.gov to find an available booster.  
  • Step 2: Enter your ZIP code to find the nearest pharmacy. Then, select your desired vaccine. 
  • Step 3: Select your desired pharmacy. 
  • Step 4: Assure that the selected pharmacy has your vaccine available. Then, select “Book appointment” to enter the pharmacy’s website.
  • Step 5: Follow the prompts on the website and fill out your information to book your vaccination appointment. 

Northwestern does not currently offer booster shot clinics.

Do students need to be vaccinated if they have already been diagnosed with COVID-19?

Yes, all students, except as noted above, are required to be vaccinated, even if they have already tested positive for COVID-19.

How do I request an exception to the booster requirement?

Community members who are eligible for their booster but are unable to schedule their booster appointment within 30 days of becoming eligible should submit an access-related exception request as soon as possible. If it is not possible for you to submit by your deadline, please email vaccine@northwestern.edu.

  • If you request an access-related exception, you must attach confirmation (e.g. picture, email confirmation) of your post-deadline scheduled booster appointment to be considered for an exception request.

Community members who are unable to receive a booster due to personal health conditions should submit a health-related exception request as soon as possible. If it is not possible for you to submit by your deadline, please email vaccine@northwestern.edu.

  • If you request a health-related exception, you must attach a note from your personal licensed healthcare provider that explicitly states that you should not obtain any COVID booster for personal medical reasons. Employees should refer to FAQs on Reasonable Accommodations for further guidance.

Community members who are unable to receive a booster due to a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance should submit a religious-related exception request as soon as possible. If it is not possible for you to submit by your deadline, please email l vaccine@northwestern.edu.

  • If you request a religious-related exception, you must attach a personal statement articulating the specific religious belief, practice, or observance and how it conflicts with the booster requirement.

Students, faculty and staff should submit an exception request through the COVID-19 Vaccination Form.

What is the protocol for unboosted students, faculty and staff on campus?

Unboosted students, faculty or staff are held to heightened COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Currently, those protocols mirror what is required of our unvaccinated students, faculty and staff and include:

  • Completing twice-weekly COVID-19 testing on campus (Based on recommendations from Northwestern’s medical experts, these tests must be completed within three days of each other. If the number of days between tests is greater than three, the Symptom Tracker application will display in yellow as a reminder to complete a new test in order to return to green status).
  • Completing the daily Symptom Tracker application on those days when they are on campus.