Skip to main content

Faculty and staff vaccination expectations

Dear faculty and staff,

As we previously announced, Northwestern employees will return to campus in greater numbers during July and August, settling into the new operational plans by September. While we have thousands of faculty and staff coming to campus daily right now, the campus COVID-19 positivity rate is a very low 0.06%. By implementing prudent and consistent health and safety practices, we aim to continue this trend into the fall.

To further facilitate that trend, Northwestern will require faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Aug. 1, 2021, subject to limited exceptions. This decision follows our recent announcement to require COVID-19 vaccination for students. The vaccines are widely available, safe and effective, and requiring the community to be vaccinated will enable us to lift public health restrictions and increasingly resume campus life with confidence that our community is protected to the maximum degree, based on the latest science.

Faculty and staff are expected to attest to their vaccination status online as soon as possible, if they have not yet done so using the previous disclosure form that was rolled out in April. Vaccines are readily available at pharmacies and healthcare providers in Chicago and Evanston. If you are having trouble scheduling a vaccine appointment, you can contact for assistance.

We understand some individuals have health conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent them from being vaccinated. We also understand that some people have concerns about getting one of the available vaccines while they are under FDA emergency use authorization (EUA) status. Anyone who chooses not to receive a vaccine for any of these reasons—who is otherwise not fully vaccinated or who fails to report their vaccination status to the University as of Aug. 1—will be considered unvaccinated.

Unvaccinated staff or faculty who work on campus are required to:

No formal exception is required for faculty and staff until full FDA approval is obtained for a COVID-19 vaccine. Once that happens, the only permitted exceptions to the vaccine requirement will be for appropriately documented health conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs. Any staff or faculty member remaining unvaccinated at that time will be required to complete a formal exception request, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Those who are not vaccinated and do not have an approved exception in place will be escalated to the Provost’s Office (faculty) or Human Resources (staff) for further review and action.

Faculty and staff who are not vaccinated do not qualify automatically for remote work under the policy on Alternative Work Strategies. Those who still have questions about the vaccines are encouraged to visit the Vaccine Requirement FAQs and watch recent panel discussions led by Northwestern experts here  and here. Northwestern will also resume its Return to Campus Discussion Series with a webinar for faculty and staff scheduled for noon-1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 21. The webinar will focus on the health and safety of our University community and will feature two medical experts on the panel.

On our campuses, across the state and throughout our nation, vaccines make significant, undisputed impacts on case numbers. We want everyone in our community who can be vaccinated to get vaccinated to ensure a healthy and productive return to campus.

Thank you,

Luke Figora
Vice President for Operations

Kathleen Hagerty
Provost and Professor

Manuel Cuevas-Trisán
Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer