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FAQ on Vaccination Requirements Frequently Asked Questions

Does AU require that students be vaccinated against COVID-19?

Yes, AU requires both vaccines and booster shots. All students who come to campus for any reason must be vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes full-time and part-time students, undergraduates and graduate students, and residential and non-residential students. Students must receive boosters as soon as they are eligible (six month after their full vaccine series).

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What about booster shots?

Yes, those are also required. Receive and upload proof of your COVID-19 booster shot by February 10, 2022 or 14 days after you become eligible for a booster.  This applies to all students, faculty, and staff. 

For more information, see the university's announcement of our booster shot requirement.

How do students provide proof?

By uploading it to your student health portal. Please see instructions for the submission of the vaccination record

All students (undergraduate, graduate, WCL) must provide official documentation that includes the name of the vaccine received and the vaccination dates. This documentation could be your CDC Vaccination Card, World Health Organization Yellow Book, or official documentation from a medical provider. 

Faculty and staff upload documentation through the AU Forward portal.

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What are the deadlines to submit proof?

For Spring 2022:

  • January 1, 2022 is the deadline for all incoming students (new in spring) to submit proof of completing a COVID-19 vaccination series. This is the same as the deadline for all other required immunizations. Continuing students do not need to resubmit.
  • February 14, 2022 (or 14 days after becoming eligible to receive a booster) is the deadline for all students to submit proof of your COVID-19 booster. This deadline applies to all students, faculty, and staff (including hybrid and online). 

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Are there exemptions for vaccinations and/or boosters?

For vaccinations, yes, if approved by the university following the established procedures. For boosters, students with previously approved exemptions are exempt. See full information below.

For vaccination: 

Students may request an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for medical or religious reasons, following existing university protocols. The deadline to submit this request for spring 2022 is January 1, 2022.

  • Religious exemption. Students must follow the university’s procedures for requesting religious exemptions for immunizations. Students who previously received a religious exemption for immunizations do not need to submit another exemption request for the COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Medical exemption. At AU, a medical exemption from immunization may be allowed if a student’s physician provides a detailed letter indicating why this immunization is  medically inadvisable. This letter is reviewed by the university’s Medical Director, who determines if the medical condition meets criteria for exemption in accordance with the most up-to-date CDC recommendations. The CDC’s guidance on vaccination of persons with underlying conditions can be found here.

Exemptions are only available for medical or religious reasons, and must follow university protocols. There are no exceptions.

For booster shots:

  • Students with existing university-approved vaccination exemptions. You are exempt from boosters. You do not need to reapply.
  • Students who are vaccinated and now wish to receive a booster exemption. ALL students, except for those with previously approved exemptions, are required to receive boosters. Under limited circumstances, a medical exemption may be considered if a student's physician provides a detailed letter indicating an adverse reaction to the initial vaccination.

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Are vaccinations required for faculty and staff?

Yes, American University requires COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty and staff­. This includes adjunct faculty members, part-time employees, visiting scholars/researchers, affiliates/volunteers, and full-time contract workers.

For more detailed information for faculty and staff, please see these Coronavirus Community Resource FAQs on faculty and staff vaccinations.

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What if a student is partially but not fully vaccinated by the deadline?

Submit partial proof of vaccination. Upload your proof of vaccination as soon as possible, even if you will not have completed all doses. If you will not complete both doses by arrival, upload proof of your first dose. 

“Partially vaccinated” means that you have received only one dose of a two-dose vaccine and/or 14 days have not passed since your final dose of a vaccine series. 

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What happens if a student doesn't submit proof of vaccination status by the deadline?

Students who have not submitted proof that they are fully or partially vaccinated (e.g. two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, one dose of J&J, or WHO-approved vaccine) and who do not have an approved medical or religious exemption will risk significant academic disruption, including the inability to progress in registering or attending classes.

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Where can I get my vaccination or booster shot?

These are widely available. Here's where to go and how to search for sites:

  • Vaccinations and booster shots are readily available near campus, including pharmacies and grocery stores.
  • Go to the CDC’s vaccine location webpage, which includes search boxes for state health departments and the national Vaccine Finder website; or,
  • Go to the national Vaccine Finder website, which will direct you to relevant locations in your vicinity; or,
  • Go to your jurisdiction’s website for COVID-19 vaccination (by searching on your jurisdiction’s name and COVID vaccination) to see options; or,
  • Ask your personal health provider. Some doctors’ offices offer pre-registration at clinics, or if not, can advise you on services in your area.

Vaccine distribution is managed by federal and state agencies.

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What vaccines are accepted?

Any COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use in the US will be accepted.

Many international students may be vaccinated in countries that are using vaccines not yet approved in the United States. In accordance with CDC guidelines, AU will accept vaccines approved by the World Health Organization. See FAQ below on international students for more details. 

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Are visitors and guests on campus required to provide documentation of a COVID-19 vaccination?

Yes, as of Spring 2022, they must document COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test. Event schedulers are informed of the process for confirming the vaccination status of guests to campus. More information will be posted shortly. All visitors, both formal and informal, must follow AU's health and safety protocols. 

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After vaccination, do community members still need to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing?

  • Indoors, yes. Anyone present in AU buildings or campus facilities must wear masks while indoors. The only exceptions are when eating or alone in an office or residence hall room.
  • Outdoors, vaccinated individuals do not need to mask unless in a large gathering of 25 or more people. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals must mask at all times. Special events may require masking outdoors as well. Please watch for guidelines in announcements.

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After vaccination, will COVID-19 testing still be required?

Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals must test twice a week. 

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Do students need to show proof of COVID vaccination to live in campus housing?

Yes. Students with housing assignments must provide proof of full or partial vaccination, or have received a university-authorized medical or religious exemption, prior to move-in. International students who have been unable to obtain a vaccine will vaccinate upon arrival. 

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What about international students and individuals coming from overseas?

The International Student FAQ page is your source for detailed information. We understand that students not currently in the US may not have access to US-authorized vaccines prior to arrival and have many other questions. 

International researchers and faculty, you may find more detailed information on the Coronavirus Community Resource page.

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What is meant by "campus presence"?

This includes visiting the library, attending meetings, visiting offices, or using any campus facilities or spaces. A student can have a campus presence without attending in-person classes.

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I will have no presence on campus, but will participate in an AU program overseas (such as Study Abroad). Do I need to comply with the vaccine requirement?

Yes. All students (as well as faculty or staff members) participated in an AU-authorized or organized program with overseas travel (such as Study Abroad, immersion programs, etc.) must follow the vaccine requirements or request and receive an exemption. This is to protect the health and safety of our community members in these programs who may be traveling to countries with ongoing community spread of COVID-19. 

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I have more questions. Where can I find more information?

These FAQs, on the Student Health Center page, primarily address concerns relevant to students, along with services for the whole community, such as COVID-19 testing.

For other questions, including questions relevant to faculty and staff (such as the attestation process and exemption request process for faculty and staff), as well as general questions on vaccine-related university policy and more, please review the extensive Vaccination FAQs on the Coronavirus Community Resource page.

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FAQs on Booster Shots

What are the risks of getting a booster?

For many who have completed their primary series with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the benefits of getting a booster shot outweigh the known and potential risks. So far, reactions reported after the third Pfizer-BioNTech shot were similar to that of the 2-shot primary series. Fatigue and pain at the injection site were the most commonly reported side effects, and overall, most side effects were mild to moderate. However, as with the 2-shot primary series, serious side effects are rare, but may occur.

Does this change the definition of “fully vaccinated” for those eligible for booster shots?

People are still considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-shot series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the J&J/Janssen vaccine. This definition applies to all people, including those who receive an additional dose as recommended for moderate to severely immunocompromised people and those who receive a booster shot.

Can you explain these “permissive” recommendations related to people 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions, and people 18 to 64 who may be exposed due to occupational/institutional setting? How are these different from the other recommendations?

Adults 18-49 who have underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, as are people 18-64 are in an occupational or institutional setting where the burden of COVID-19 infection and risk of transmission are high. However, that risk is likely not as high as it would be for adults 50 years and older who have underlying medical conditions, or people who live in long-term care settings. Therefore, the CDC’s recommendation is not as strong for these populations, but still allows a booster shot to be available for those who would like to get one. People 18 and older who are at high risk for severe COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions or their occupation should consider their individual risks and benefits when making the decision of whether to get a booster shot. This recommendation may change in the future as more data become available.

Will providers such as Walgreens accept anyone who says they’re eligible to receive a booster shot? Will people need to show a doctor’s note/prescription or other documentation?

Individuals can self-attest (i.e. self-report that they are eligible) and receive a booster shot wherever vaccines are offered. This will help ensure there are not additional barriers to access for these select populations receiving their booster shot.

Looking for More Information?

AU's Health & Safety Procedures and Coronavirus Response: More details about AU's coronavirus response, health and safety protocols, COVID-19 testing and links to policy directives can be found here.