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Vaccination Requirement FAQs

Updated 7/19/21

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 will require COVID-19 vaccination for all students (including exchange and visiting students) in on-campus programs for the 2021-22 academic year. Additionally, Northwestern will require COVID-19 vaccination for all faculty and staff who work on campus. Faculty and staff who work on campus are expected to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 1.

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

Northwestern is requiring COVID-19 vaccination following recommendations from our medical and public health partners. Ensuring our community is vaccinated will best allow Northwestern to resume normal operations on campus in the Fall and support in-person classes and activities for students. Northwestern’s requirement will support 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?

At this time, 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?

Northwestern doesn’t control which types of vaccines it receives from the State of Illinois. Students who have a preference for a vaccine not offered by Northwestern will need to arrange for vaccinations elsewhere.

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

Vaccinated students do not need to wear masks or participate in asymptomatic testing. Find more information on masking and testing.

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

Students must have their vaccination or exception on record in order to register for classes. Registration for Fall programs generally takes place mid-July to mid-August. Fall Quarter registration for new Evanston students begins in early September. Students are encouraged to receive a vaccination and provide documentation as soon as they are able. Students not able to meet the requirement prior to arriving at Northwestern (such as international students) will need to apply for an initial exception in order to be able to register for classes. Students are asked to complete the COVID-19 Vaccination Form before July 12, 2021 to avoid a registration hold.

Can students seek an exception to the vaccination requirement?

Yes. Information about seeking an exception to the vaccination requirement, including for health conditions or religious reasons, was communicated in early June. 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. Please note, students who wish to seek an exception to the vaccine requirement due to emergency-use authorization status may do so. However, students who receive an exception related to emergency-use authorization status must be vaccinated once full FDA approval is received for any COVID-19 vaccine, unless they apply for and receive another exception at the time of full FDA approval.

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.

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.

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

Students who have not been fully vaccinated or have not received an exception through the COVID-19 Vaccination Form will not be able to register for Fall classes. Students who receive an exception will be required to participate in testing, symptom tracking and masking.

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 will be 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.

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 happens if someone contracts COVID-19 too closely to the deadline to get vaccinated before arriving on campus?

Students are encouraged get vaccinated as soon as possible to avoid this situation. Students who are not able to meet the vaccination requirement due to a recent COVID diagnosis will be required to get vaccinated on campus or elsewhere as soon as they have met the appropriate window of time post-diagnosis. 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 is 90 days or less), you will be required to submit documentation of full vaccination or to request an exception.

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 to request a different 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 by Aug. 1, 2021 and are expected to attest to their vaccination status by that same date. Faculty and staff who chose to not receive a vaccine or who fail to report their vaccination status to the University by Aug. 1 will be considered unvaccinated. Unvaccinated staff or faculty who work on campus will be 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?

No formal exception is required for faculty and staff until full FDA approval is obtained for a COVID-19 vaccine. More information will come after a vaccine has obtained full FDA approval.

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?

Faculty and staff who live, work or take 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. No formal exception is required for faculty and staff until full FDA approval is obtained for a COVID-19 vaccine. Faculty and staff in this situation should seek an exception after a vaccine has obtained full FDA approval. Northwestern still strongly encourages vaccination, and there may be other requirements to access campus in the Fall.

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.

What happens if faculty and staff don’t comply with the vaccine requirement?

Unvaccinated staff or faculty who work on campus will be 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

These obligations constitute requirements for employment eligibility for unvaccinated staff and professional duties for unvaccinated faculty.  

Once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes fully FDA approved, the only permitted exceptions to the vaccine requirement will be for 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 an individualized basis. Those who are not vaccinated and who 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.

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.

What happens if someone contracts COVID-19 too closely to the deadline to get vaccinated before arriving on campus?

Faculty and staff are encouraged get vaccinated as soon as possible to avoid this situation. Faculty and staff who are not able to meet the vaccination requirement due to a recent COVID diagnosis will be required to get vaccinated on campus or elsewhere as soon as they have met the appropriate window of time post-diagnosis. Once you receive guidance from your health care provider that you are cleared to receive the vaccine (typically this window is 90 days or less), you will be required to attest that you have been fully vaccinated.