Working Together to Protect our Community and Advance our Academic Mission

FAQs

General COVID-19-Related Information

1. What is the University’s plan for Autumn Quarter 2021?

As announced by President Zimmer and Provost Lee on March 29, the University is planning for a full resumption of activities on campus by the start of the new academic year in September.

The University will communicate throughout the summer about plans for Autumn Quarter, along with additional details to come from schools, divisions, and the College.

2. Will the University report COVID-19 cases that occur in the campus community?

The University of Chicago COVID-19 Dashboard provides important information on the status of COVID-19 at the University and the health of the campus community. We will continue to update the dashboard throughout the summer with the number of cases detected through surveillance testing as well as cases reported to the University via C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu.

3. Will the University continue to provide COVID-19 testing throughout the summer?

Testing is available to all members of the University campus community who are experiencing symptoms or have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. 

The mandatory testing program for those living in the University residence halls, as well as student athletes who live off-campus, has ended for the 2020-21 academic year.

Voluntary surveillance testing will continue to be available through the summer for individuals who will frequently be on campus or at another University facility in the Chicago area and can commit to regular testing in Hyde Park. We strongly encourage anyone who is not yet fully vaccinated and who will be at a University location this summer to participate in the Voluntary Surveillance Testing Program.

Unvaccinated students with an approved exemption, or who are in the process of being fully vaccinated, will be subject to weekly testing and may be required to follow additional mitigation measures. Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days are not subject to weekly testing. The University will provide more information later this summer on the additional precautions required, including the details on the weekly asymptomatic surveillance testing program.

Visit UChicago Forward for more information.

4. Will University contact tracing continue throughout the summer?

Yes. All reports made to C19HealthReport@uchicago.eduof a UChicago community member who has been exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive are forwarded to the University’s Contact Tracing Team. A Contact Tracer is assigned to interview each individual with confirmed COVID-19 to determine if they have been in close contact with other members of the University community.

It is vitally important for all members of the University community to cooperate with the University’s Contact Tracing Team. Their work has been essential in limiting the spread of COVID-19 on campus. 

For more information, visit the UChicago Forward website.

5. What treatment is available for those who test positive for COVID-19?

Any faculty, other academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, or staff member with a positive result from a test conducted by UChicago Medicine will be informed of their test by UCM, and will be provided with options for follow-up care. Students who test positive will be notified by and can receive follow-up care from UChicago Student Wellness

6. What is the University’s current travel policy?

The University has revised its COVID-19 travel restriction, effective June 15, 2021, to allow for greater responsibility in units to assess travel requests by faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, students, and visitors to campus (e.g., for recruitment) to account for improved conditions in many parts of the United States and internationally.  All University-supported travel still requires review and approval by the appropriate authority named in the updated policy.  The updated policy also provides new guidance on what constitutes University-supported travel.

For more information, visit the UChicago Forward travel page.

University COVID-19 Vaccination-Related Requirements

1. Will the University require students to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19?

Starting with Autumn Quarter 2021, the University of Chicago will require all students participating in University in-person classes, employment, research, or other University-sponsored programs or activities in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 unless they have an authorized exemption.

2. Are University employees required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19?

The University expects every University employee to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they cannot do so because of a medical or religious reason, or because of other authorized exemptions. The University will use an online registry to confirm employee vaccination status. University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, and staff should upload proof of their COVID-19 vaccination in the University’s registry by August 13, 2021. Our goal is a campus-wide vaccination rate that is as close to 100% as possible.

3. Will others on campus (contractors, affiliates, visitors, and volunteers) be expected to be vaccinated?

The University encourages everyone to be vaccinated at their earliest opportunity. We will provide details in the near future on requirements for non-employees who will be on campus.

4. What vaccines will be accepted?

Any COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or by the World Health Organization (WHO) will be accepted. For a list of authorized vaccines, see question #5 below.  

5. Which vaccines have been authorized for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO)?

At this time, the following vaccines have been authorized by the FDA or WHO, under emergency use authorization/listing, and will satisfy the University’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement:

  • AstraZeneca (WHO)
  • Covishield/Serum Institute of India (WHO)
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (FDA)
  • Moderna (FDA)
  • Pfizer/BioNTech (FDA)
  • Sinopharm (WHO)
  • Sinovac (WHO)

              This list will be updated as other vaccines are authorized.

6. Where can students and employees receive a vaccination?

There are many options for vaccination appointments and the availability of appointment times from many providers has been increasing. These opportunities include:

  • UChicago Medicine– Thanks to increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines, UChicago Medicine is able to vaccinate all Chicago residents 12 and older. Call 773-834-8221 to make an appointment. Adult patients with MyChart accounts also may schedule appointments through MyChart.
  • UChicago Student Wellness – Students can request a vaccine by emailing UChicago Student Wellness at studentwellness@uchospitals.edu. Please provide your phone number, eight-digit student ID number, and if you are not currently on campus please indicate the date you anticipate arriving on campus.  Staff will contact you to arrange an appointment time.
  • Chicago Vaccination Finder– The City of Chicago has a websitewith multiple options for scheduling vaccinations, including information on pharmacies with vaccination programs and options outside of Chicago. The City site also contains information about Zocdoc, which has partnered with the city to streamline vaccine access.
7. Why is the University requiring a vaccine that is under an Emergency Use Authorization?

The FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is a regulatory process that facilitates the availability and use of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, during public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. According to the FDA, approval of a vaccine through the EUA process requires a determination that “the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine.” The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Use Listing procedure is similar.

The University has determined that, based on guidance from experts at the City of Chicago Department of Public Health and UChicago Medicine (UCM), COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to contribute to greater immunity, reduce the risk of sudden clusters of COVID-19 on campus, and help protect members of our community who are at the highest risk of developing serious illness from the virus. As noted by UCM’s Dr. Stephen Weber in his vaccination Q+A, “the reported potential risks and side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine are substantially lower than the risks and side effects associated with contracting COVID-19.”

8. Will individual University offices be expected to gather vaccination information?

No. Individual offices should not set up their own processes or ask individuals about their vaccination status.

9. How will vaccination data be used?

A limited number of staff will have access to vaccination data to confirm compliance with University requirements designed to help protect the health and safety of our campus and neighboring communities. The information will be maintained in accordance with all applicable laws and public health regulations.

Given the experience of UChicago Student Wellness in the University’s vaccination efforts including its ongoing role in verifying student immunization compliance, Student Wellness will play a lead role in verifying compliance with the University’s vaccine requirement.  Individuals’ vaccination data is stored in a HIPAA-compliant medical record system. 

10. How have the available vaccines been tested for safety and efficacy?

The three vaccines that have received emergency use authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration all have undergone thorough testing for safety and efficacy in large clinical trials. Each trial enrolled between 28,000 and 44,000 people before the vaccines received EUA status. The vaccines were found to be highly efficacious in preventing COVID-19 infections and recent data suggest that a vaccinated individual has a greatly diminished ability to transmit the virus if exposed.

Over 303 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given in the United States from December 14, 2020, through June 8, 2021. Many people have reported only mild side effects and to date, the systems in place to monitor the safety of the vaccines have found that serious side effects are rare. For more information about vaccine safety, visit the CDC’s website.

11. What are the expectations for time intervals between doses for two-dose vaccines?

For individuals who received a two-dose vaccine, we expect the dosing interval to be consistent with CDC guidelines. However, if your dosing interval is outside these recommendations, we still encourage you to submit your documentation. UChicago Student Wellness is coordinating the University-wide vaccination registry processes. Your records will be reviewed by the UChicago Student Wellness medical team, and if there is concern, they will contact you.

12. What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated”?

Being fully vaccinated means two weeks after a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after a one-dose vaccine. Students and employees should not upload their documentation until two weeks after they have received all doses of their vaccine.

Employee Vaccination Information

1. Do the vaccine-related requirements apply to employees of global centers and campuses, BSD, UChicago Medical Center, the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), UChicago Lab Schools, and UChicago Charter School?

The requirements apply to University employees, including Laboratory Schools employees, among others. These requirements will apply to employees who access University facilities in the Chicago area for any reason and at any frequency.

Separate vaccination policies will apply to employees of the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC), employees with patient-facing duties in the Division of Biological Sciences, and those employed by the UChicago Charter School or MBL. UCMC’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement takes into account its central role in pandemic response, and is in keeping with UCM’s requirement that employees be vaccinated against influenza every year.

Employees who work solely at the University’s global campuses and not at University facilities in the U.S. are not subject to the University-wide requirement at this time. In these cases, employees should follow their unit’s requirements and guidelines.

2. Why is the University putting these requirements in place?

In developing these policies, the University considered the highly positive impact that COVID-19 vaccines have had so far in the U.S. The University has determined based on expert guidance that widespread COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to contribute to greater immunity, reduce the likelihood of sudden clusters of COVID-19 on campus, minimize the risk imposed by new variants, and help protect members of our community who are at the highest risk of developing serious illness from the virus. Vaccination is a crucial part of our plans for a full resumption of in-person activities on campus this Autumn Quarter.

3. By what date should University employees provide evidence of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19?

August 13, 2021.  Employees who are still in the process of getting vaccinated on August 13 will be required to follow mitigation procedures until they are fully vaccinated.

4. What is the process for employees to show proof of full vaccination?

Please refer to the July 14 email, Steps to Confirm Vaccination Status Via a Registry, for more information.

5. Are there exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees?

The University expects every University employee to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they cannot do so because of a medical or religious reason, or other exemptions. We will provide additional information regarding exemptions, including for religious or medical reasons, at a later time.

6. What are the requirements if a University employee does not provide proof of vaccination?

Any University employee working on campus or at a University facility in the Chicago area who does not upload proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for any reason will be required to participate in the University’s weekly COVID-19 testing program, wear a mask when in University buildings, except when in a private office/room with the door shut or when eating/drinking with six feet social distance, and potentially follow other mitigation measures. Employees who are still in the process of getting vaccinated on August 13 will be required to follow mitigation procedures until they are fully vaccinated.

The University is in the process of developing additional information on its employee COVID-19 vaccination policy, including guidance on exemptions, and potential disciplinary actions for unvaccinated employees who do not receive an exemption or comply with mitigation measures. In the meantime, we will continue to assess relevant data, including the proportion of employees who have confirmed through the vaccine registry that they have been vaccinated. This may help determine whether further steps are necessary. Our goal is a campus-wide vaccination rate that is as close to 100% as possible.

7. How do I inform the University that I have initiated the process of being vaccinated?

University employees who are in the process of being vaccinated off-campus should email a copy of their vaccine appointment confirmation to studentwellness@uchospitals.edu Employees will be contacted to get registered in the surveillance testing program until they are fully vaccinated.

8. Does the COVID vaccine-related requirement apply to employees who are not coming to campus this academic year?

These requirements apply to all employees who access University facilities in the Chicago area for any reason and at any frequency.

9. How do you define the “University facilities in the Chicago area” where this requirement is in effect?

University facilities include all owned or leased buildings with University offices, laboratories, classrooms, libraries, cafes, residence halls, museums, performance spaces, or other University facility in Hyde Park, Chicago, and the Chicago area, including the Howard T. Ricketts Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois.  This does not include the National Laboratories and does not include property leased to third parties by the University’s Commercial Real Estate Operations.

10. Do employees who have had COVID-19 need to be vaccinated? What are the additional requirements/precautions for them?

Employees who tested positive for COVID-19 and have not been vaccinated will be exempted from the weekly surveillance testing program for a period of 90-days. Additional details about how to be exempted from the testing program will be shared in the coming weeks.

11. I cannot get vaccinated against COVID-19 due to a medical or religious reason. Should I use the University’s vaccine registry/the my.Wellness portal to notify the University now of this?

Information regarding exemptions for employees will be shared at a later time. For now, you should not use the University’s vaccine registry to notify the University of an exemption.

Student Vaccination Information

1. Does the vaccination requirement apply to all students?

The requirement applies to all students participating in University in-person classes, research, or other University-sponsored programs or activities in the U.S. This includes undergraduate, graduate, professional school, and non-degree students. There are limited exemptions, as detailed in question #9 below.

2. Why is the University requiring students to be vaccinated?

The requirement will strengthen the University’s ability to protect the health and safety of our campus and neighboring communities. Research indicates universal COVID-19 vaccination for UChicago students will contribute to greater immunity, reduce the risk of sudden clusters of COVID-19 on campus, and help protect members of our community who are at the highest risk of developing serious illness from the virus. This is particularly true for students who are often in close contact with one another and often live in shared spaces with multiple students. The student vaccine requirement thus will significantly assist the University in safely resuming in-person education, research, and co- and extra-curricular activities.

For more information, please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Science Brief and information for people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

3. When is the deadline to submit documentation?

Students participating in any University in-person or on-campus activity that begins in the months of June, July, or August 2021 will need to show proof of full vaccination by August 1. This includes early-arrival fall athletes and anyone in classes, labs, pre-matriculation, pre-orientation, orientation, University-sponsored trips, or other programs.

All other students will need to show proof of full vaccination by September 1, 2021.

4. Does the University require students to receive other vaccines?

Yes. The State of Illinois requires students entering post-secondary educational institutions to show proof of immunization against a number of diseases. The University complies with these requirements, and the experience of administering and confirming those requirements for students has informed the University’s approach to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

5. When should students who do not have access to an FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine receive an FDA vaccine?

Students who do not have access to an FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine are advised to consider getting a vaccine that is available to them, according to local public health guidance and with direction from their doctor. This may afford protection prior to coming to campus for Autumn Quarter.

According to CDC guidance, people who received all or some of the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine that is neither authorized by the FDA nor listed for emergency use by the WHO may also complete an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series. The minimum interval between the last dose of a non-FDA authorized vaccine or a non-WHO-listed vaccine and an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine is 28 days.

The University is committed to facilitating access to vaccines for students when they arrive in the U.S./on campus. When making vaccination decisions, please keep in mind UChicago Medicine is currently offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Students can request a vaccine appointment by emailing UChicago Student Wellness at studentwellness@uchospitals.edu. Please provide your phone number, eight-digit student ID number (if you have one), and if you are not currently on campus, please indicate the date you anticipate arriving on campus. Staff will contact you to arrange an appointment time.

6. What if I received a vaccine that is not authorized by the FDA or the WHO? Do I need to receive an FDA- or WHO-approved vaccine before I come to campus?

The WHO is currently evaluating several additional vaccines and may approve some of them in the coming months. If you received a vaccine that was not approved by the WHO at the time you received it, you do not need to receive an alternate vaccine before traveling to campus. If by the time you arrive on campus that vaccine is still not approved by the WHO and you still have not received a WHO- or FDA- approved vaccine, you will need to receive an FDA-approved vaccine on campus.

If the vaccine you received is approved for use from the WHO by the time you arrive on campus, that vaccine will meet the University’s requirement and you will not need to receive another vaccine at that time. If you have questions about this, please email studentwellness@uchospitals.edu and UChicago Student Wellness staff can provide guidance.

7. Where can I find information about how to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine requirement?

Full details can be found on the UChicago Student Wellness immunizations page. Students should not upload their documentation until two weeks after they have received all vaccine doses.

8. What are the consequences of not complying with the vaccine requirement (for students)?

Students who are not vaccinated and do not have an approved exemption are not compliant with the University’s requirement, and therefore will be subject to non-compliance measures including restrictions on course registration. Further, students who have not been vaccinated or do not have an approved exemption will not be authorized to come to any University campus, grounds, or facilities, or participate in University-sponsored in-person classes, research, or other activities (whether on campus or off campus) after their vaccination deadline. Students with approved exemptions will be required to participate in the University’s surveillance testing program until fully vaccinated and may be required to follow additional mitigation measures. Additional implications may vary by division and school.

University facilities include all owned or leased buildings with University offices, laboratories, classrooms, libraries, cafes, residence halls, museums, performance spaces, or other University facility in Hyde Park, Chicago and the Chicago area, and the Howard T. Ricketts Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois.  This does not include the National Laboratories and does not include property leased to third parties by the University’s Commercial Real Estate Operations.

9. Are there exemptions to the student COVID-19 vaccine requirement?

There are exemptions to the vaccine requirement, as follows:

Medical and religious exemption: these forms can be found on the UChicago Student Wellness immunizations webpage and must be submitted through the my.WellnessPortal.

Students who recently tested positive for COVID-19: these students can receive a 90-day exemption from the vaccine requirement by emailing a copy of their test results to studentwellness@uchospitals.edu. After this 90-day period, students will be required to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine requirement and participate in the University’s surveillance testing program until fully vaccinated and may be required to follow additional mitigation measures. In limited circumstances, students who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 may request a modification of the 90-day exemption. Students who wish to apply for such a modification must complete the Prior COVID-19 Exemption Form and email it to studentwellness@uchospitals.edu. Requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and additional documentation will be required, including proof of a prior COVID-19 test result.

Remote study/research: students who are not returning to campus or participating in any University-sponsored in-person class, research, or activity may request an exemption on a quarter-by-quarter basis. The Studying Remotely Exemption Form can be found on the UChicago Student Wellness website and must be emailed to studentwellness@uchospitals.edu.

Emergency Use Authorization: students who wish to apply for a temporary exemption to the vaccine mandate on the basis of the vaccines’ Emergency Use Authorization status must complete the Emergency Use Authorization Temporary Exemption Form and email it to studentwellness@uchospitals.edu. Once a vaccine that is readily available in the U.S. becomes fully FDA approved, this temporary exemption will expire and students will need to promptly be vaccinated and submit proof of vaccination.

10. What are the additional requirements/precautions for students who are not yet fully vaccinated?

Unvaccinated students with an approved exemption, or who are in the process of being fully vaccinated, will be subject to weekly testing and may be required to follow additional mitigation measures. Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days are not subject to weekly testing.

Students who have not been able to get vaccinated due to limited supply in their home countries will be able to be vaccinated on campus. Students in this circumstance will need to follow the same weekly testing protocol as students who have exemptions until they are fully vaccinated (two weeks after a two-dose vaccine series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine). The University will provide more information later this summer on the additional precautions required, including the details on the weekly asymptomatic surveillance testing program.

Students can request a vaccine by emailing UChicago Student Wellness at studentwellness@uchospitals.edu. Please provide your mobile phone number, eight-dight student ID number, and if you are not currently on campus please indicate the date you anticipate arriving on campus.  Staff will contact you to arrange an appointment time.

11. How do I inform the University that I have initiated the process of being vaccinated?

For students who have started the process of being vaccinated on campus through UChicago Student Wellness, Student Wellness staff will make a notation in their medical record so that those students can be registered for weekly surveillance testing until fully vaccinated.

Students who are in the process of being vaccinated off campus should email a copy of their vaccine appointment confirmation to studentwellness@uchospitals.edu.  Students will be contacted to get registered in the surveillance testing program.

12. Do students who have had COVID-19 need to be vaccinated? What are the additional requirements/precautions for them?

Students who have tested positive for COVID-19, and who do not have another approved exemption, will still need to comply with the University’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement. Exceptions apply for unvaccinated students who have tested positive within the 90-day window prior to the start of their on-campus activities for Autumn Quarter. To apply for this exemption, students must email their COVID-19 test results to studentwellness@uchospitals.edu.

In limited circumstances, students who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 may request a modification of the 90-day exemption. Students who wish to apply for such a modification must complete the Prior COVID-19 Exemption Form and email it to studentwellness@uchospitals.edu. Such requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and additional documentation will be required, including proof of a prior COVID-19 test result.

The University is following current guidance from UChicago Medicine for students who have previously tested positive for COVID-19. If a student has had COVID-19 in the past 90 days, they will need to postpone vaccination until that 90-day window has elapsed, if electing to be vaccinated through UChicago Medicine. If they are still symptomatic and infectious, they should postpone vaccination until they are well and no longer contagious. Also, anyone treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent therapy in the past 90 days should postpone vaccination until after the 90-day window has passed.

Students will be required to be vaccinated when this exemption expires if there are no other approved exemptions. After the 90-day window and until the student is fully vaccinated (two weeks after a two-dose vaccine series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine), students will be subject to weekly testing and may be required to follow additional mitigation measures. The University will provide more information later this summer on the additional precautions required, including details on the weekly asymptomatic surveillance testing program.

The University may adapt this guidance as more information becomes available.

13. What is the process for international students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and show proof of vaccination?

International students who have received a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use by the FDA or the World Health Organization (WHO) can submit proof of vaccination to the University.

If an international student arrives in the United States and has not yet been vaccinated or has received a vaccine that has not been approved by the WHO by the time they arrive on campus, the University will facilitate access to an FDA-authorized vaccine when they arrive on campus. Please note that students may be subject to additional travel restrictions/requirements as designated by local authorities. Students will also be subject to weekly testing and may be required to follow additional mitigation measures until they have been fully vaccinated.

International students who do not have access to an FDA- or WHO-approved vaccine in their home countries can request a vaccine by emailing UChicago Student Wellness at studentwellness@uchospitals.edu. Please provide your phone number, eight-digit student ID number, and if you are not currently on campus please indicate the date you anticipate arriving on campus.  Staff will contact you to arrange an appointment time.

14. Does the vaccine mandate apply to students who are not coming to the U.S. this academic year?

The vaccine mandate the University announced applies to students entering the U.S. this academic year. Specific guidelines and requirements for students participating in University in-person classes, research, or other University-sponsored programs or activities outside of the U.S. will be provided in separate communications. We strongly encourage all members of the University community to be vaccinated at their earliest opportunity.

15. My vaccine documentation is not in English? How do I get it translated?

Records must include all relevant information (name, date of birth, vaccine manufacturer, location and dates of dose administration) in English.  The University does not offer a translation service or provide referrals for specific companies. Suggestions for how to find a reliable translation service can be found on the Office of International Affairs website.

16. Who can I contact if I have questions?

If you have additional questions, please email studentwellness@uchospitals.edu with your question(s) and include your phone number and eight-digit student ID number.  Employees should include their UChicago email address and their UChicago ID (which can be found on the back of your University ID card). We will be able to address your inquiry more efficiently via email, and we will call you if we need further information.  Forms and detailed instructions are also available on our immunizations webpage.

If you have been exposed to or test positive for COVID-19, promptly report to C19HealthReport@uchicago.edu, even if you have not been on campus.