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Vaccination Requirement FAQs

Updated 9/27/21

In addition to general questions about Northwestern's vaccination requirement, common student and faculty and staff questions are listed below.

General Questions

Does Northwestern require students or employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19?

Northwestern requires COVID-19 vaccination for all students (including exchange and visiting students) in on-campus programs for the 2021-22 academic year. Additionally, Northwestern requires COVID-19 vaccination for all faculty and staff who work on campus. 

Why will Northwestern require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated beginning in Fall 2021?

Northwestern requires COVID-19 vaccination following recommendations from our medical and public health partners. Ensuring our community is vaccinated best allows Northwestern to resume normal operations on campus in the Fall and support in-person classes and activities for students. Northwestern’s requirement supports the public health goals of the State of Illinois to vaccinate as many people as possible.

Which vaccines are approved to meet Northwestern’s requirement?

Any vaccine authorized by the FDA or the WHO satisfies Northwestern’s vaccine requirement. If you have questions regarding if a specific vaccine meets the requirement, please email vaccine@northwestern.edu

Do I need to submit the Vaccination Form if I was vaccinated through a Northwestern vaccination event?

No, if you ​are a student, faculty or staff member vaccinated through a Northwestern vaccination event, we have your records on file and there is no further action required.

Do I need to submit the Vaccination Form if I was vaccinated through Northwestern Medicine?

Yes, if you ​are a student, faculty or staff member vaccinated through Northwestern Medicine, you will need to report your vaccination through the Student Vaccination Form or Employee Vaccination Form so the University has your records on file.

What if I received a vaccine not approved by the FDA or WHO?

The CDC has stated: “People who completed or partially completed a COVID-19 vaccine series with a vaccine that is not authorized by FDA or not authorized for emergency use by WHO may be offered an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series.” Faculty and staff who have concerns about receiving an FDA or WHO approved vaccine after previously receiving a non-approved vaccine should consult with their own health care provider and, if needed, once a vaccine obtains full FDA approval, you will be able to submit a health condition related exception request with a note from a licensed health care provider. Similar to others who are granted exceptions, students, faculty and staff who receive this exception will face heightened testing, masking and symptom tracking.

Will vaccination records that are in a language other than English satisfy documentation requirements?

If possible, Northwestern requests the documentation be uploaded in English. If that is not possible, it may take additional time to validate documentation.

What do I do if I lost my vaccination card documenting that I received the vaccine?

Please provide a personal statement in place of your vaccination card documentation in the COVID-19 Vaccination Form stating that you lost your vaccine card with the dates that you were vaccinated, the manufacturer of your vaccine and the location where you were vaccinated. 

Do I need to quarantine if I am domestically or internationally traveling to campus?

No. Northwestern does not require students, faculty or staff to quarantine after traveling to campus, regardless of their vaccination status.

What is the protocol for unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff traveling domestically or internationally to campus?

Unvaccinated individuals must follow COVID-19 testing and masking protocols upon arrival. If you are unvaccinated and planning to obtain a vaccine to meet Northwestern’s vaccine requirement, please start this process immediately. Until you are fully vaccinated, please continue to follow our heightened protocols for unvaccinated individuals.

Unvaccinated students, staff or faculty are required to:

  • Complete 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.)
  • Complete the daily Symptom Tracker application on those days when they are on campus
  • Wear a mask in all shared indoor settings

Student Questions

How can students sign up to receive a vaccine?

Students who want a vaccination are encouraged to fill out this form, and the University’s vaccination team will contact you to provide options for receiving a vaccine.

How can students report their vaccination status or request an exception?

Students can report their vaccination status or request an exception through the COVID-19 Vaccination Form.

Do students who already submitted a voluntary vaccination self-disclosure need to complete another vaccination report?

Yes, students will need to complete this additional process, which will require documentation of vaccination status.

Can students choose which vaccine to receive on campus?

Individuals can choose between a Moderna or a Johnson & Johnson vaccine and make an appointment via the COVID-19 Vaccination Appointment Form.

Do vaccinated students need to be tested on a regular basis? What about wearing masks?

Vaccinated students should adhere to the University guidelines on masking and testing. Due to the changing dynamics related to the delta variant of the virus, all students, regardless of vaccination status, are required to complete entry testing as they return to campus for the Fall. This applies to students who are in Evanston and Chicago over the summer for research or other purposes. Rapid testing is available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Jacobs Center at 2001 Sheridan Road in Evanston or 345 Superior in Chicago. Students should complete their initial test on the same day as their arrival or on the next day the testing site is open if they arrival in the evening or on a weekend. Students must then complete a second test three to four days later.

What is the deadline for students to report their vaccination status?

Students must submit proof of full vaccination or submit an exception request with appropriate documentation (e.g. letter from licensed health care provider, personal statement) by Aug. 26 in order to be compliant and be an enrolled student for Fall Term. Students not able to obtain an FDA/WHO-approved vaccine prior to arriving at Northwestern (such as international students) will need to apply for an access-related exception in order to be able to register for classes. 

Can students seek an exception to the vaccination requirement?

Yes, students may request an exception related to personal health, sincerely held religious beliefs or a lack of access to an FDA/WHO-authorized vaccine. Students receiving a vaccination exception will be required to participate in increased levels of COVID-19 testing, masking and symptom tracking while they are on campus. Due to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Aug. 23 approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine, Northwestern will no longer provide temporary exception requests to the vaccination requirement related to the Emergency Use Authorization. Consequently, the temporary exception that some students were granted from the Northwestern COVID-19 vaccination requirement will expire on Oct. 4, 2021. We encourage these students to take immediate action to complete their full vaccination series by Oct. 4. If you wish to request for a permanent exception, please do so by Monday, Sept. 20. Submitting by this date will give Northwestern time to consider your request before rendering a decision.

 

Are students who live or take classes in a state that doesn’t allow for vaccine requirements required to get the vaccine?

Students who are taking classes exclusively in a state that prohibits vaccine requirements and/or prohibits educational institutions from asking for proof of COVID-19 vaccination are not required to be vaccinated. Students in this situation should seek an exception. Northwestern still strongly encourages vaccination, and there may be other requirements to access campus in the Fall.

Please note that Kellogg EMBA Miami students should contact emba-advising@kellogg.northwestern.edu for additional guidance. 

What are the health conditions approved to seek an exception?

The CDC has provided information on contraindications related to COVID-19 vaccines. Your personal health care provider should help determine whether you have a health condition preventing you from getting vaccinated.

What happens if students don’t comply with the vaccine requirement?

Students who have not submitted proof of full vaccination and completed the attestation or submitted an exception request with the appropriate documentation (e.g. letter from a licensed health care provide for health exceptions, personal statement for non-health exceptions) through the COVID-19 Vaccination Form by Aug. 26 will not be able to access campus systems, buildings (including housing), or services and will not be able to enroll for the Fall. Moreover, students who are not compliant with the requirement cannot come to campus or participate in any activities (including student organizations) or events intended for enrolled students. Students who receive an exception will be required to participate in testing, symptom tracking and masking.

Students who previously were granted a temporary exception on the basis of the Emergency Use Authorization have until Oct. 4, 2021, to either submit proof of full vaccination and complete the attestation or to obtain approval for a new, permanent exception request.

Do students need to be vaccinated if they don’t live in the residence halls and don’t plan to socialize with other students?

Yes, any student planning to access campus for any reason is required to be vaccinated.

Are students enrolled in online-only programs required to be vaccinated?

Students enrolled in online-only programs and not accessing campus for any reason are exempted from the vaccination requirement. Applicable programs will communicate to their students that they are exempt from this requirement. If you have questions on if this requirement applies to you, ask your program administrator. If you are receiving reminder emails to comply with the vaccination requirement, that means that you have not been identified as a remote student. If this is the case, you need to comply by Aug. 26 and can submit an exception request based on the fact that you are a remote student. If you don’t comply by Aug. 26, you will not be enrolled for Fall Term. 

Are students in mostly online programs required to be vaccinated?

Yes, students who are in programs that meet predominately online but include mandatory on-campus sessions, however few, are required to be vaccinated.

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

Yes, all students are required to be vaccinated, even if they have already had COVID-19.

What if I am not able to get vaccinated due to receiving antibody therapy?

You may request a temporary exception through the COVID-19 Vaccination Form. Once you receive guidance from your health care provider that you are cleared to receive the vaccine (typically this window in 90 days), you will be required to submit documentation of full vaccination or to request a new, permanent exception. 

Does the vaccine requirement apply to international students?

Yes. Students, including international students, must receive a vaccine authorized by the FDA or the WHO.

If a student is not able to receive an approved vaccine before arriving on campus, can they be vaccinated upon arrival?

Yes. Students needing vaccination when they arrive will have access at Northwestern’s Health Service. Students can receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which will meet the vaccination requirement immediately. Students who receive a two-dose vaccine upon arrival will not meet the vaccination requirement until they complete the full vaccine regime. It is important to note students who have fulfilled their vaccine requirement are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after their final dose of a vaccine series, and may have additional requirements during that time (such as increased testing and masking).

Should international students who have been vaccinated by a non-approved vaccine disclose that information?

International students may disclose this but will still need to submit another record with a vaccine that meets the Northwestern requirement.

I submitted my COVID-19 vaccine record to NU Health Service with my new student Immunization Requirement forms. Does this meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirement?

No, new students must report their COVID-19 vaccination through the COVID-19 Vaccination Form to complete the vaccination requirement.

Faculty and Staff Questions

To whom does the vaccination requirement apply?

The COVID-19 vaccination requirement applies to all full-time, part-time and temporary faculty and staff who work on campus, as well as visiting scholars. Schools and units are expected to remind temp workers—regardless of the duration of their appointment—to submit the vaccination disclosure form once they have their NetIDs. Vaccinations and testing are managed by the employers of contractors who perform work on campus.

Do faculty and staff who already submitted a voluntary vaccination self-disclosure need to complete another vaccination report?

No, submitting via the voluntary disclosure form that the University introduced in April is sufficient.

What is the deadline for faculty and staff to report their vaccination status?

Subject to limited exceptions, faculty and staff who work on campus are expected to be fully vaccinated. Requests for an exception must be submitted by Sept. 7, 2021. Unvaccinated staff or faculty who work on campus are required to:

  • Complete 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.)
  • Complete the daily Symptom Tracker application on those days when they are on campus
  • Wear a mask in all shared indoor settings

How can faculty and staff sign up to receive a vaccine?

Faculty and staff are encouraged to take advantage of the free walk-up appointments offered by pharmacies like WalgreensCVS and Jewel-Osco .

If a faculty or staff member is a patient of Northwestern Medicine, NM is offering free COVID-19 appointments.

If you still need assistance making a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, contact the vaccine support team by emailing vaccine@northwestern.edu.

Additionally, Northwestern plans to host a few mass vaccination events during the summer. The schedule will be posted in the coming weeks on our vaccination site.

If I am a faculty or staff member and plan to not be vaccinated, do I need to submit an exception request?

Any faculty or staff member who seeks an exception to the University’s vaccination requirement due to a personal health condition or sincerely held religious belief must submit a formal exception request.  Due to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Aug. 23 approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine, Northwestern will not provide temporary exceptions to the vaccination requirement related to the Emergency Use Authorization. If you have been waiting for the FDA’s full approval of a vaccine, please get your first shot by Sept. 7, 2021 and submit your exception request to become compliant with the vaccination requirement. This will provide you with a temporary exception over the next month while you complete your full vaccination series. Alternatively, you can obtain the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and submit proof of full vaccination by Sept. 7, 2021 to become compliant.  If you are fully vaccinated, attest to your vaccination status now.

When on campus, individuals with an approved exception are required to test twice weekly, continue masking in all shared indoor settings and complete the Symptom Tracker daily. We will strictly enforce vaccination and testing requirements for students, faculty and staff.

Any staff member who is unvaccinated without an approved exception, or who receives an exception but does not comply with the COVID-19 safety protocols outlined above, will be quickly escalated internally within their school or unit leadership and Human Resources for appropriate action. If a staff member remains non-compliant with these requirements, they will be transitioned to an unpaid leave of absence and, ultimately, terminated in alignment with the Staff Handbook.

For all faculty, continued non-compliance will lead to disciplinary actions, up to and including temporary suspension and termination of employment. The sanctioning process will follow the steps outlined in the Faculty Handbook.

Are faculty and staff who live, work or take classes in a state that doesn’t allow for vaccine requirements required to get the vaccine?

Yes, all faculty and staff who live or work outside of Illinois are required to be vaccinated as well. They are welcome to submit an exception request like Illinois-based residents, and their requests will be evaluated under the same criteria. If their exception request is approved, they will be held to the same COVID protocols (testing, masking, symptom tracking) as other unvaccinated faculty and staff.

How does the vaccination requirement apply to unionized employees?

As necessary, Northwestern will engage with union leaders to discuss and formalize the obligations of union-represented employees.

What are the health conditions approved to seek an exemption?

The CDC has provided information on contraindications related to COVID-19 vaccines. Your personal health care provider should help determine whether you have a health condition preventing you from getting vaccinated.

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

Yes, all faculty and staff are required to be vaccinated, even if they have already had COVID-19.