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Coronavirus
(COVID-19)

Information Center

Vaccination Resources

Last Updated: Jul. 14, 2022 at 10:17 am

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. Lehigh requires students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated and boosted, with the exception of approved medical or religious exemptions. For the 2022-23 academic year, we are requiring that students be fully vaccinated and have received a booster, except for students who submit medical and religious exemptions; at this time, we do not anticipate requiring an additional booster for the 2022-23 academic year.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions marked with a bell emoji have been added recently.

Boosters

Yes. Studies show immunity from a vaccine may be more reliable and provide more long-term protection. The CDC recommends that all eligible people get a booster shot, even if they’ve had COVID. In particular, prior infection is likely to provide poor protection against the Omicron variant.  Read more on the CDC website

People who should wait to get vaccinated - “If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma while sick with COVID-19, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. If you received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma after you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 to prevent you from getting sick, you should wait 30 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your healthcare professional if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

“If you or your child have a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults or children (MIS-A or MIS-C), consider delaying vaccination until you have recovered from being sick and for 90 days after the date of diagnosis of MIS-A or MIS-C.”

 

Yes. Please see the guidance that was sent to students linked here

The CDC offers more guidance on boosters, including eligibility, on the CDC website and Vaccines.gov provides location information for COVID vaccines and boosters.

International students who cannot get boosted where they are located should schedule a booster as soon as they return to the United States. Send a secure message to the Health and Wellness Center through the Patient Portal and they will be able to log your individual situation and advise on any further questions about your vaccination/booster schedule. 

The university is developing a new process for faculty and staff to confirm their vaccination status. Details will be forthcoming

Noncompliance with the booster requirement for students will result in a hold being placed on the student's account which will prevent them from registering for classes for the following semester. Faculty and staff noncompliance will be addressed at the college and stem level as a violation of workplace and university policy.

If your medical or religious circumstances have changed since receiving the original vaccination series and you intend to submit a new request for a medical or religious exemption from the booster requirement, you are required to do so by submitting the required information (for students, to the Health and Wellness Center).

Vaccine providers may not require you to show your vaccination card to get a booster or may be able to provide you with separate documentation that you received a booster. Check with your local vaccine provider for their processes and requirements. 

For faculty and staff, there are other forms of vaccination proof that may also be used for employer documentation. Refer to this list provided by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

Widespread vaccination in the fall allowed us to operate as an in-person campus. Given the waning effectiveness of vaccines over time, the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and mounting evidence that boosters provide additional protection against COVID, Lehigh is requiring the COVID booster as an extension of the university’s COVID vaccination requirement for all eligible students, faculty and staff who did not receive an approved medical or religious exemption.

Studies have shown that vaccination is effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID, but vaccination protection against the virus and variants decreases over time. Boosters are a necessary component of our health and safety protocols to support a successful semester on campus, including in-person instruction and activities.

No. If you received a medical or religious exemption from COVID vaccination, you are not required to get a booster shot and do not need to take any further action.

When we analyzed surveillance testing data of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated Lehigh students in the fall, we saw that the COVID positivity rate in vaccinated students was about 30% of the rate in unvaccinated students. These results suggest that vaccinations protected students from infection, consistent with data from published studies

Our analysis also showed that protection was less in students who were vaccinated in early spring vs. those who were vaccinated in mid to late summer, suggesting that vaccine effectiveness in preventing infection waned over time. This reduced effectiveness is one reason why we believe that boosters are important for maintaining in-person activities in the spring. Finally, while no vaccine is a guarantee against infection, they are extremely effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization from infection, and the booster may be needed to maintain this protection, as indicated by an uptick in hospitalizations for the vaccinated but not boosted. (The relative rate of cases is 5 times higher for the unvaccinated and death rates are 13 times higher for the unvaccinated.)

Data published by the CDC indicate that booster shots of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preventing infections AND reducing the likelihood of hospitalization and urgent medical visits. Read more

General Vaccine 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..."  

 

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.     

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. 

Yes, Lehigh will continue to require COVID vaccination and boosters for all students, faculty and staff (unless they receive an approved medical or religious exemption). The Supreme Court ruling limits the power of the federal government to mandate that large employers take certain measures, such as requiring vaccinations, but does not preclude or limit employers from instituting such measures.  As an employer, Lehigh has the ability to implement this requirement for the health and safety of its community, and vaccination and boosters remain critical in supporting these efforts. We are continuing with the strategy we initiated last summer to most safely provide a fully functioning campus through widespread vaccination.  For more information on these requirements and for additional health guidance, please visit our Vaccination Resources Center.

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.”

Yes. Lehigh is requiring students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated and boosted, or to receive an approved medical or religious exemption. Read more detail and stay up-to-date on the latest vaccination information, resources, and Lehigh policies on the Lehigh vaccination resource page

The CDC outlines guidelines for vaccinated domestic and international travelers and the PA DOH current travel guidance page can be found here.

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.

 

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.

Student Vaccine Requirement

Students can request an exemption, for COVID or any of the other required vaccines, by reaching out to the HWC via the student Patient Portal. An Immunization Exemption request form will be published for the student to review, sign and submit for documentation in their medical record.

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 should include information about their COVID vaccination when they complete their record of required vaccinations, including documentation of their full name, name of vaccine received, and the administration dates for all doses.

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.

 

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 and the booster are effective at preventing serious illness and death and continue to be the best protection against the spread of new and more contagious variants of the virus.

In addition, widespread vaccination supports the health and safety of the campus community and helps 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.

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.

Follow the directions for requesting an exemption as shared on the student health portal. New/Incoming students can find more information here

 

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.

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 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.

Faculty/Staff Vaccine Requirement

The university is developing a new process for faculty and staff to confirm their vaccination status. Details will be forthcoming

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. 

 

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 and the booster are effective at preventing serious illness and death and continue to be the best protection against the spread of new and more contagious variants of the virus.

In addition, widespread vaccination supports the health and safety of the campus community and helps 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.

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

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. 

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. As is the case for unvaccinated faculty and staff, 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 and follow the policy determined by the university for quarantining. 
  • Complete a daily symptom self-assessment
  • Wear a mask even if the university requirement is lifted

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. 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:

        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.