Working Together to Protect our Community and Advance our Academic Mission

University Vaccination FAQs

As the University announced on May 18, all students participating in in-person classes, research, or activities in the U.S. are required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 starting with the 2021 Autumn Quarter. Student Wellness recently provided additional details on how to fulfill the requirement.

The following FAQs are updated over time and include detailed information to address many questions you may have.

General Questions

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, research, or other University-sponsored programs or activities in the U.S. to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

2. 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 #20 below.

3. 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.

4. When is the deadline to submit my 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.

5. 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.

6. Will the University require employees to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19?

The University is evaluating whether the COVID-19 vaccine also will be required for all academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, and staff, and we will share an update soon.

We strongly encourage all members of the University community to be vaccinated at their earliest opportunity, whether on campus through UChicago Medicine or UChicago Student Wellness or through other providers.

7. Where can students receive a vaccination?

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

  • UChicago Medicine– Students can request a vaccine by emailing UChicago Student Wellness at studentwellness@uchospitals.edu. Please provide your mobile 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 website with multiple options for scheduling vaccinations, including information on pharmacies with vaccination programs and options outside of Chicago. The Chicago site also contains information about Zocdoc, which has partnered with the city to streamline vaccine access.
8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. 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 after your arrival 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.

12. 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 suggests 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.

13. 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 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.”

In accordance with state law, the University has long required students to provide proof of immunizations for other diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and tetanus and diphtheria, and our experience administering and confirming those requirements have informed our approach to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

If students have questions associated with the EUA status of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S., they may contact UChicago Student Wellness at studentwellness@uchospitals.edu. Students who wish to apply for a temporary exemption to the vaccine mandate on the basis of the vaccines’ EUA 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.

14. 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. Your records will be reviewed by the UChicago Student Wellness medical team, and if there is concern, they will contact you.

15. 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.

16. 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 should not upload their documentation until two weeks after they have received all doses of their vaccine.

17. 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.

18. How will vaccination data be used?

Vaccination data will be used by a limited number of staff to confirm compliance with University requirements in order 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.

19. What are the implications of not complying with the vaccine requirement?

Students who do not comply with the vaccine requirement, meaning they 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. Non-compliance with these measures could also result in restrictions on course registration. 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 and greater Chicago, 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.

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. 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 a 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.

24. 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.

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

All vaccine documentation must be 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.

26. Who can I reach out to with further 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.  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.