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Vaccination Requirement FAQs

Updated 12/20/21

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. Additionally, Northwestern requires COVID-19 booster vaccinations of all faculty, staff and students beginning in January 2022. The above requirements are all subject to limited exceptions (e.g., documented, approved personal medical and religious reasons).

Why does Northwestern require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated?

Northwestern requires COVID-19 vaccination following recommendations from our medical and public health partners. Ensuring our community is vaccinated best allows Northwestern to perform normal operations on campus 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.

How do I report my booster shot to Northwestern?

Faculty, staff and students should attest to their booster and upload documentation online.

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. mRNA boosters (Pfizer and Moderna) are strongly encouraged, and only boosters approved by the FDA are accepted.

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. Regardless of whether you were originally vaccinated through a Northwestern vaccination event, you will need to report your COVID-19 booster via the online booster form.

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. You will need to separately report your COVID-19 booster via the online booster form.

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 be subject to heightened testing, masking and symptom tracking requirements.

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, but students required to follow Wildcat Wellness protocols, which acts as a modified quarantine.

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. 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 report their vaccination status or request an exception?

Students can report their vaccination status or request an exception through the COVID-19 Vaccination Form. Students can attest to their booster and upload documentation at a separate link.

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.

Can students seek an exception to the vaccination requirement?

Yes, students may request an exception related to personal health or sincerely held religious beliefs. Students receiving a vaccination exception are required to participate in increased levels of COVID-19 testing, masking and symptom tracking while they are on campus.

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

Students who take classes exclusively in a state that prohibits or significantly restricts 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.

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 provider, personal statement for non-health exceptions) through the COVID-19 Vaccination Form are not be able to access campus systems, buildings (including housing), or services and are not be able to enroll in classes. 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.

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.

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, except as noted above, are required to be vaccinated, even if they have already had COVID-19.

Does the vaccine requirement apply to international students?

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

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 Northwestern Medicine Student 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. Additionally, Northwestern requires COVID-19 booster vaccinations of all faculty, staff and students beginning in January 2022. The above requirements are all subject to limited exceptions (e.g., documented, approved personal medical and religious reasons).

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.

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. For relevant faculty, the sanctioning process will follow the steps outlined in the Faculty Handbook.

Are faculty and staff who work exclusively in a state that doesn’t allow for vaccine requirements required to get the vaccine?

Generally, all faculty and staff who live or work on a Northwestern campus or worksite outside of Illinois are required to be vaccinated, as well. However, faculty/staff who work exclusively in a state that prohibits or significantly restricts vaccine requirements are not required to be vaccinated. Faculty and staff in this situation should seek an exception. Northwestern still strongly encourages vaccination, and there may be other requirements to access campus. 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 do the vaccination and booster requirements apply to unionized employees?

As appropriate, Northwestern will engage with union representatives to discuss application of these requirements to 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.