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Coronavirus
(COVID-19)

Information Center

Vaccination Resources

Last Updated: Aug. 20, 2021 at 4:03 pm

This page provides a compilation of resources regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and information about Lehigh-related vaccination policies.

Widespread vaccination is critical for a safe and successful academic year and for supporting the health and safety of the Lehigh and South Bethlehem community.

Resources and Links

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions marked with a bell emoji have been added recently.

Faculty/Staff Vaccine Requirement

All faculty and staff are required to be fully vaccinated and submit their vaccination status or request a medical or religious exemption from the vaccination requirement using the COVID-19 Vaccine Certification Form they received via email by Monday, August 30, 2021. Faculty and staff are asked to certify that the information they provided is truthful and accurate. The university may follow up to request additional verification at any time, including asking for a copy of vaccination cards.

 

Faculty with questions about medical exemptions or general information related to the process for submitting vaccination information should contact the Provost’s Office at provost@lehigh.edu and staff should contact Human Resources at inhro@lehigh.edu. For questions related to religious exemptions, contact the Religious Exemptions Request Review Committee by emailing increp@lehigh.edu.

 

Providing confirmation of vaccination signifies that faculty and staff attest to the accuracy and truthfulness of the information provided. While this system will allow us to collect vaccination information expediently at the beginning of the semester, the university may ask for follow-up documentation (vaccination card) and verification. The university also is aware of general reports nationally and globally of vaccination cards being fabricated illegally; any such action by a Lehigh community member would be cause for termination (for faculty and staff) and suspension or expulsion (for students).  

 

Faculty and staff requesting a medical exemption will be required to provide information about the specific medical issue that prevents them from safely being vaccinated. Medical exemption requests must be accompanied by documentation from a treating physician. Medical exemption requests will be reviewed by a committee comprising representation from the Provost’s Office, Human Resources, and medical professionals.

Faculty and staff requesting a religious exemption are asked to provide a brief personal statement explaining why the COVID-19 vaccine is against their religious beliefs and why they are requesting this religious exemption (including any supporting documentation of their belief from a religious body). Their statement must also indicate whether other immunizations are against their religious beliefs (in other words, do they also object to the flu or other vaccines for religious reasons, or do they only object to COVID). Religious exemptions are granted for those who have demonstrated sincerely held religious beliefs against vaccination and who submitted the required documentation to support their request. Social, political, and economic beliefs and philosophies, or personal preferences, do not constitute religious beliefs. Religious exemptions will be reviewed by a Religious Exemption Request Review Committee, a separate review committee comprising faculty and staff representatives, including the Chaplain’s Office and Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator.

 

The safety and well-being of the Lehigh community are our highest priority as we strive to provide the educational environment and workplace that students, faculty and staff expect. While no vaccine provides a guarantee against infection, COVID vaccination is effective at preventing serious illness and death and continues to be the best protection against the spread of new and more contagious variants of the virus.

In addition, widespread vaccination will support the health and safety of the campus community and help us to achieve and sustain a safe and successful semester with more normal activity on campus, including in-person classes, in-person events, full density, and other elements of the full campus experience.

All faculty and staff were required to confirm that they are fully vaccinated or are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated or apply for a medical or religious exemption by Monday, August 30, 2021. Faculty and staff received an email on August 17 with instructions on how to complete this process. If you have not received this email, please contact invax@lehigh.edu.

Further information about the rigor of testing and trials to receive EUA approval is available on the FDA website. Data collected thus far indicate the COVID vaccines approved in the U.S. are very safe and effective at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID. Exemptions are available for students, faculty and staff who have a medical condition or sincerely held religious belief that supports exemption from the Lehigh COVID vaccination requirement. On August 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, now marketed as Comirnaty, for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.

Faculty and staff received an email on August 17 with instructions on how to complete this process. If you have not received this email, please contact invax@lehigh.edu.

Faculty requesting a medical exemption will be required to provide information about the specific medical issue that prevents them from safely being vaccinated. For faculty, these requests will be reviewed by the Provost’s office, in consultation with medical professionals. For staff, the process will be similar, with the Office of Human Resources reviewing the requests in consultation with medical professionals. Religious exemptions will be reviewed by a Religious Exemption Request Review Committee, a separate review committee comprising faculty and staff representatives, the Chaplain’s Office, and the Equal Opportunity Compliance Coordinator.

Anyone who is partially vaccinated and in the process of actively pursuing full COVID vaccination, or who receives an approved medical or religious exemption and is unvaccinated, will be required to:

  • Participate in mandatory COVID surveillance testing
  • Follow CDC guidelines for quarantining if they are identified as a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID
  • Continue to wear a mask indoors, even if the universal masking requirement is lifted 
  • Complete a daily symptom self-assessment to gain building access
     

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect our community and allow for a return to normal campus operations. Noncompliance with the vaccination requirement will result in employees not having access to campus facilities and will be addressed at the college and stem level as a violation of workplace and university policy. 

General Vaccine Information

Faculty or staff should not request information about students’ vaccination status. If a student volunteers such information, faculty must not ask about the reasons why a student is or is not vaccinated. The university will not share confidential health information.

Yes. Prior COVID illness does not qualify as an approved medical exemption from the Lehigh student COVID vaccination requirement. If you have questions about when it is safe for you to get the vaccine, contact the Health and Wellness Center to review your individual situation by sending a secure message through the Patient Portal

View the CDC's answers to frequently asked questions here and under "If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine?"  

Also under: "Can I get vaccinated against COVID-19 while I am currently sick with COVID-19?"

Additionally, recent studies point to vaccines generating stronger immune responses than getting COVID and likely protect better against viral variants:

  • Substantial Differences in SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Responses Elicited by Natural Infection and mRNA Vaccination - “The results show that naturally-exposed individuals mount a stronger anti-spike response upon vaccination than individuals that were not previously exposed ... Longitudinal specimens taken at approximately weekly intervals from 9 individuals show variation in the response to the mRNA vaccine, with some showing a vigorous response to the first dose (prime) and others requiring a subsequent dose (boost) to reach high anti-SARS-CoV-2 levels.”
  • Antibody response induced by mRNA vaccination differs from natural SARS-CoV-2 infection- “‘We should not assume that previously infected individuals are immune or that they cannot transmit the virus,’ write the authors. Thus, vaccination induces a more robust antibody response, and even people who have been previously infected may benefit from the vaccine.”
  • Risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection after natural infection- "The quality, quantity, and durability of protective immunity elicited by natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 are poor relative to the much higher levels of virus neutralising antibodies and T cells induced by the vaccines currently being administered globally.  Emergence of variants of SARS-CoV-2 with variable escape from natural and vaccine-induced immunity complicates matters further. Precise correlates of protection against SARS-CoV-2 are not known, but emerging variants of concern might shift immunity below a protective margin, prompting the need for updated vaccines. Interestingly, vaccine responses even after single dose are substantially enhanced in individuals with a history of infection with SARS-CoV-2. These data are all confirmation, if it were needed, that for SARS-CoV-2 the hope of protective immunity through natural infections might not be within our reach, and a global vaccination programme with high efficacy vaccines is the enduring solution..."  

 

Visit the Vaccination Resources page on the Coronavirus Information Center for more information about Lehigh's policies. 

No. While an individual always has the option of sharing their vaccination status personally, the university will not share someone's vaccination status or personal information. Please also note that while widespread vaccination will provide for substantive protection from the virus, individuals may choose to wear masks or practice other health and safety protocols in various settings. For example, because someone is choosing to wear a mask (beyond any university requirements), complete the symptom checker, or complete other protocols is not necessarily indicative of their vaccination status. All members of the community are encouraged to treat one another with respect.     

No. You do not need to quarantine if you are fully vaccinated (meaning at least 2 weeks after the final dose of a COVID vaccine series) as long as you are not experiencing COVID-like symptoms (however, you must be fully vaccinated in order to be exempt from quarantine).  Students must upload a copy of their COVID vaccination card on the HWC health portal, including documentation of their full name, name of vaccine received, and the administration date for both doses.

Regardless of vaccination status, persons who exhibit new or unexplained symptoms of COVID-19 still need to isolate and be evaluated for COVID-19 testing. Close contacts who have not received the vaccine must follow existing quarantine guidance.

If you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, whether you are unvaccinated or vaccinated--follow the established protocols, including contacting your medical provider to be tested, staying home and away from others to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus, and following any isolation protocols should you test positive for COVID. 

No. Lehigh does not have a role in distributing the vaccine. COVID vaccines are now widely available. You can find vaccination locations here.

All Pennsylvanians age 16 and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This includes all Lehigh students. More information about Pennsylvania’s vaccination process can be found on the PA Department of Health website. If you are not in Pennsylvania, check the rollout plan in your state.

Yes. The CDC says, “The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States. Vaccination providers can be reimbursed for vaccine administration fees by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay a vaccine administration fee.​”

Regarding Lehigh’s student insurance, Wellfleet provides the following information: “Wellfleet will waive all out-of-pocket costs for the COVID-19 vaccine. Student members will not be responsible for co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance regardless of which FDA-approved vaccine they receive.”

The CDC outlines guidelines for vaccinated domestic and international travelers and the PA DOH current travel guidance page can be found here. For Lehigh-specific polices, refer to the travel and transportation page

Refer to the PA DOH website for information about vaccine providers in your area.

Students, faculty and staff who have been fully vaccinated do not need to socially distance and do NOT need to quarantine if they have been identified as a close contact of a person with COVID-19, as long as they remain asymptomatic. However, the CDC and DOH may recommend that testing occur after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Check the PA DOH and CDC websites for the most updated guidance. 

All individuals with symptoms (students, faculty, staff), even those fully vaccinated, must still complete diagnostic testing.

For the policies unvaccinated individuals must follow, please refer to the applicable FAQs under the headings for “Faculty/Staff Vaccine Requirement” and “Student Vaccine Requirement.”

The Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) has compiled safety information for COVID vaccines, including information for specific vaccines. The CDC also has information about adverse effects here. According to the CDC, adverse events that have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) are accepted, even if it is not clear the vaccine caused the problem. The CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other federal agencies will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

 

Student Vaccine Requirement

Students with questions about a medical exemption should contact the Health and Wellness Center by sending a secure message through the Patient Portal.

Students with questions about a religious exemption should contact the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee by emailing increp@lehigh.edu. 

Any students whose requests are denied will be required to schedule their first vaccine dose within seven calendar days of receiving the university’s decision.

Students who have submitted an exemption request and decided to proceed with getting vaccinated should inform the Health and Wellness Center and/or the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee that you are withdrawing your request and you should upload your verification of vaccination to the Health and Wellness Center Patient Portal https://studentaffairs.lehigh.edu/content/how-find-covid-19-immunization-history-or-exemption-form as soon as possible upon completion of first dose.

Upon receiving your first vaccine dose, the HWC will approve a time-limited exemption to allow you time to be fully vaccinated.  During that time, students will be considered “not fully vaccinated” and must follow all university protocols for unvaccinated students at https://coronavirus.lehigh.edu/vaccination-resources#exemption.

 

For students who request a religious exemption, please review the university policy as outlined below. 

For students requesting a religious exemption from the student COVID vaccination requirement, the following considerations apply:

We will grant a religious exemption from vaccination for students who have demonstrated sincerely held religious beliefs against vaccination and who have submitted the required documentation to support their request.

●        Social, political, and economic beliefs and philosophies, or personal preferences alone, do not constitute religious beliefs.

●        Students requesting this exemption understand and agree that they are assuming all potential risks of non-vaccination, including the risk of death due to COVID. Please read information about the vaccine here and on the CDC website. 

●        Students with an approved exemption will be required to comply with the university’s COVID-19 surveillance testing program and other preventive measures including, but not limited to, masking, social distancing and isolation/quarantine protocols, as determined by the university.

●        In the event of an outbreak on or near campus, all students who are not fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine, including those students with an approved exemption, may be temporarily excluded from all campus facilities and activities, for their protection, until the outbreak is determined to be over.

●        None of the restrictions or limitations imposed by the university for the safety of students and other community members will entitle students to any reduction in tuition, housing or other fees.

Religious exemption requests will be reviewed by the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee, a separate review committee comprising staff from Student Affairs, the Chaplain’s Office, and the Equal Opportunity Compliance Office.

Students who requested a religious exemption will receive instructions for the information they are required to submit to the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee so their request can be reviewed and approved or denied.  

Students requesting a religious exemption are asked to provide a brief personal statement below explaining why the COVID-19 vaccine is against their religious beliefs and why they are requesting this religious exemption (including any supporting documentation of their belief from a religious body). Their statement must also indicate whether other immunizations are against their religious beliefs (in other words if they submitted an exemption request for other Lehigh-required immunizations this year or in the past).  

All students must complete their final dose of an approved COVID vaccine at least 14 days prior to their planned return to campus (or receive an approved exemption). Please be aware that failure to submit verification of vaccination or a medical/religious exemption request by the August 4 deadline will result in a “Hold” being placed on students’ accounts. For students living on campus, failure to complete all required immunizations and documentation could delay your arrival and check-in. If you have not yet been vaccinated, or if you have been vaccinated and have not yet uploaded a copy of your vaccination card, please do so as soon as possible by following these instructions.

Faculty or staff should not request information about students’ vaccination status. If a student volunteers such information, faculty must not ask about the reasons why a student is or is not vaccinated. The university will not share confidential health information.

Students with individual questions about their personal situation should send the Health and Wellness Center a secure message through the Health Center Portal - this is preferable to email and will help facilitate a prompt response.

 

Students requesting a medical exemption are required to provide a written letter from their treating health provider documenting the medical indication for exemption and a recommendation that they not be vaccinated. 

Students should upload a copy of their COVID vaccination card on the HWC health portal, including documentation of their full name, name of vaccine received, and the administration date for both doses.

Medical exemption requests are being reviewed by the Health and Wellness Center (HWC).  Students will be notified by the HWC if additional supporting documentation is required or if the request is approved or denied. Religious exemption requests will be reviewed by the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee, a separate review committee comprising staff from Student Affairs, the Chaplain’s Office, and the Equal Opportunity Compliance Office. Students who have requested or plan to request a religious exemption will receive a secure message from the Health and Wellness Center with instructions about next steps.  Be on the lookout for this information (by the week of 8/2 for those who already have submitted their request) and please promptly submit the requested information as instructed to the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee so that your request can be reviewed and approved or denied. 

The safety and well-being of the Lehigh community are our highest priority as we strive to provide the educational environment and workplace that students, faculty and staff expect. While no vaccine provides a guarantee against infection, COVID vaccination is effective at preventing serious illness and death and continues to be the best protection against the spread of new and more contagious variants of the virus.

In addition, widespread vaccination will support the health and safety of the campus community and help us to achieve and sustain a safe and successful semester with more normal activity on campus, including in-person classes, in-person events, full density, and other elements of the full campus experience.

  • Lehigh undergraduate and graduate students participating in programs and activities on campus. This requirement will operate similarly to our existing requirements for other immunizations.
  • This requirement does NOT apply to students participating in programs that are fully online or which never meet on campus. 
  • This requirement also applies to summer programs and all students, including non-Lehigh students, who request to live in Lehigh housing.
  • Optional summer programs held away from campus may also require vaccination in order to participate.

Further information about the rigor of testing and trials to receive EUA approval is available on the FDA website. Data collected thus far indicate the COVID vaccines approved in the U.S. are very safe and effective at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID. Exemptions are available for students, faculty and staff who have a medical condition or sincerely held religious belief that supports exemption from the Lehigh COVID vaccination requirement. On August 23, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, now marketed as Comirnaty, for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.

Any vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or under the WHO - Emergency Use Listing will satisfy this requirement.

Yes. As with our other required immunizations, students may request an exemption for medical or religious reasons.

Students now have access to the COVID vaccine exemption request form on the HWC website. Follow the directions for requesting an exemption

 

Yes. Students should upload a copy of their COVID vaccination card on the Health and Wellness Center health portal, including documentation of their full name, the name of the vaccine received, and the administration date for both doses.

All undergraduate and graduate students are required to submit verification of full COVID vaccination to the HWC no later than Wednesday, August 4. You must complete your final dose of an approved COVID vaccine at least 14 days prior to your planned return to campus. Any vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or under the WHO - Emergency Use Listing will satisfy this requirement. If you have already submitted verification of full vaccination, there is no further action for you to take. 

 

If you are requesting a medical or religious exemption from the student COVID vaccine requirement, follow the directions on the HWC website. This must be completed no later than Wednesday, August 4

In limited cases, students may receive a university-approved medical or religious exemption from the COVID vaccination requirement. Unvaccinated students will be required to:

  • Participate in mandatory COVID surveillance testing
  • Follow CDC guidelines for quarantining if they are identified as a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID. ***Please note that quarantine space will be extremely limited on campus and will be prioritized for required isolation space for on-campus students with COVID. Unvaccinated students should be aware that, if they are identified as a close contact, they may be asked to quarantine at an alternative location.***
  • Complete a daily symptom self-assessment

Students exempted from COVID vaccination will have access to campus facilities and services, including classrooms, housing and dining, with potential additional health and safety measures in place. Masks are required in all indoor public and common spaces regardless of vaccination status. If COVID infection rates or adverse campus conditions necessitate, additional mitigation protocols may be applied for unvaccinated students, including limiting their access to Lehigh residence halls or campus buildings or limiting their participation in in-person activities. This information is provided to students during the process of requesting an exemption. 

Undergraduate courses are being held in person except for a small number of cases in which remote instruction is accommodating students who cannot be on campus because of visa issues or medical accommodations. Some graduate programs are completely online and students enrolled in these programs who will never come to campus do not need to be vaccinated. Students who have COVID-related concerns or questions about accommodations should reach out to Disability Support Services

We understand that by this fall, some of our international students will already have been vaccinated with one of the many non-US-FDA-approved vaccines currently being used globally. Students must receive one of the vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or by the World Health Organization-Emergency Use Listing or request an exemption for medical or religious reasons. The list of approved vaccines may evolve and the current list will apply. More specific information for international students is available in these messages from OISS (scroll to the message that applies to you) and on the website FAQ for international students. For questions about the exemptions process or about your individual vaccination schedule and plan, please send a secure message through the Health and Wellness Center patient portal. 

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has a resource explaining emergency use authorization, or “EUA.” To receive an EUA, the vaccines were required to adhere to rigorous standards, testing and multiple trials. To explain the speed of vaccine development, the FDA says: 

“In public health emergencies, such as a pandemic, the development process may be atypical. For example, as demonstrated by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government has coalesced government agencies, international counterparts, academia, nonprofit organizations and pharmaceutical companies to develop a coordinated strategy for prioritizing and speeding development of the most promising vaccines. In addition, the federal government has made investments in the necessary manufacturing capacity at its own risk, giving companies confidence that they can invest aggressively in development and allowing faster distribution of an eventual vaccine. However, efforts to speed vaccine development to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have not sacrificed scientific standards, integrity of the vaccine review process, or safety.

What will be different for students who cannot be vaccinated and receive a medical or religious exemption?

In limited cases, students may receive a university-approved medical or religious exemption from the COVID vaccination requirement. Unvaccinated students will be required to:

  • Participate in mandatory COVID surveillance testing
  • Follow CDC guidelines for quarantining if they are identified as a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID. ***Please note that quarantine space will be extremely limited on campus and will be prioritized for required isolation space for on-campus students with COVID. Unvaccinated students should be aware that, if they are identified as a close contact, they may be asked to quarantine at an alternative location.***
  • Complete a daily symptom self-assessment

Students exempted from COVID vaccination will have access to campus facilities and services, including classrooms, housing and dining, with potential additional health and safety measures in place. Masks are required in all indoor public and common spaces regardless of vaccination status. If COVID infection rates or adverse campus conditions necessitate, additional mitigation protocols may be applied for unvaccinated students, including limiting their access to Lehigh residence halls or campus buildings or limiting their participation in in-person activities. This information is provided to students during the process of requesting an exemption. 

What qualifies as a religious exemption from the student COVID vaccination requirement?

For students who request a religious exemption, please review the university policy as outlined below. 

For students requesting a religious exemption from the student COVID vaccination requirement, the following considerations apply:

We will grant a religious exemption from vaccination for students who have demonstrated sincerely held religious beliefs against vaccination and who have submitted the required documentation to support their request.

        Social, political, and economic beliefs and philosophies, or personal preferences, do not constitute religious beliefs.

        Students requesting this exemption understand and agree that they are assuming all potential risks of non-vaccination, including the risk of death due to COVID. Please read information about the vaccine here and on the CDC website. 

        Students with an approved exemption will be required to comply with the university’s COVID-19 surveillance testing program and other preventive measures including, but not limited to, masking, social distancing and isolation/quarantine protocols, as determined by the university.

        In the event of an outbreak on or near campus, all students who are not fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO authorized vaccine, including those students with an approved exemption, may be temporarily excluded from all campus facilities and activities, for their protection, until the outbreak is determined to be over.

        None of the restrictions or limitations imposed by the university for the safety of students and other community members will entitle students to any reduction in tuition, housing or other fees.

Religious exemption requests will be reviewed by the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee, a separate review committee comprising staff from Student Affairs, the Chaplain’s Office, and the Equal Opportunity Compliance Office.

Students who requested a religious exemption will receive instructions for the information they are required to submit to the Religious Exemption Request Review Committee so their request can be reviewed and approved or denied.  

Students requesting a religious exemption are asked to provide a brief personal statement below explaining why the COVID-19 vaccine is against their religious beliefs and why they are requesting this religious exemption (including any supporting documentation of their belief from a religious body). Their statement must also indicate whether other immunizations are against their religious beliefs (in other words if they submitted an exemption request for other Lehigh-required immunizations this year or in the past).