COVID-19 Vaccine Policy
June 21, 2021
Over the past several months – as COVID-19 vaccines have become readily available throughout the United States – it has certainly become clear that vaccination is the key to returning to normalcy. As vaccination rates have increased, COVID-19 infection rates have decreased nearly 90 percent since their peak in January. Fully-vaccinated individuals are now able to safely participate in activities without masks and without fear of infection.
The American College Health Association (ACHA) has recommended that colleges and universities require campus community members to be immunized against COVID-19, while allowing for normal exemptions, in order to keep people healthy and return to a more normal campus life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to warn about COVID-19 variant strains that are more contagious and lead to more serious disease and hospitalization and the rise in cases among unvaccinated young people.
Given the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing serious infection – and the desire of our Seton Hill community to return to a normal campus experience for all – Seton Hill University will require all students enrolled in face-to-face classes and attending campus activities to be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to arriving on campus for the 2021-22 academic year. Consistent with Seton Hill’s policies for other vaccinations for students, those with a valid medical or religious reason why they cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be permitted to apply for appropriate exemptions.
At this time, Seton Hill will not require vaccinations for employees but will highly recommend immunization. Through voluntary reporting, Seton Hill knows that the COVID-19 vaccination rate among full-time and permanent part-time faculty and staff is at 91 percent and exceeds the vaccination rate in the general population. Unvaccinated employees and students who receive an exemption will be required to follow risk mitigation practices as outlined by Seton Hill.
All of us at Seton Hill are eager to return to being together in the way we are accustomed. In requiring the vaccine, we hope to offer our community opportunities to more fully engage in traditional face-to-face classes, laboratories and studios as well as to host campus activities and gatherings that bring us together in person and allow us to truly live the four pillars of our mission – welcoming, learning, celebrating and serving.
Below, please find important information about the COVID-19 Vaccine Policy, including deadlines, information on uploading your proof of vaccination, exemption forms and information around policies for both vaccinated individuals and unvaccinated individuals for the 2021-22 academic year.
QUESTIONS ABOUT SETON HILL UNIVERSITY’S COVID-19 VACCINE POLICY
Who will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
All students who are enrolled in face-to-face classes and engaged in any on-campus activities during the 2021-22 academic year must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes full-time and part-time students, undergraduates and graduate students, residential and non-residential students, and adult students. Students who are enrolled in fully online programs (e.g., ADP or graduate programs) do not need to be vaccinated if they will not be on campus for any reason.
At this time, Seton Hill will not require vaccinations for employees but will highly recommend immunization. Unvaccinated employees – as well as students who receive an exemption - will be required to follow risk mitigation practices as outlined by Seton Hill.
A link to the policy is available here.
Where can I get my vaccination?
Vaccine distribution is managed by federal and state agencies. A national website – www.vaccines.gov – provides a search tool that helps individuals find vaccines in their area.
You may also ask your personal health provider. Some doctors’ offices offer pre-registration at clinics, or if not, can advise you on services in your area.
Will Seton Hill offer vaccine clinics?
In order to assist Seton Hill community members with accessing the vaccine over the summer months, Seton Hill is planning for on-campus vaccination clinics in July. We are partnering with Hayden’s Pharmacy to offer two clinics that will offer both the Pfizer (two dose) and Johnson and Johnson (single dose) COVID-19 vaccines on July 9 and July 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the McKenna Center. Clinic registration information can be found at COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Information - June 30, 2021.
What is the deadline for vaccination?
All students must receive both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine (or one dose for the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine) and provide proof of vaccination no later than August 7, 2021 or prior to their arrival on campus if that is earlier than August 7. Fall sports athletes must receive all doses and provide proof of vaccination prior to their arrival on campus for fall practices. Coaches will be in touch with athletes about individual deadlines.
How will students provide proof of vaccination?
All Seton Hill University students who receive both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine must upload their vaccination card to Med+Proctor at mp.setonhill.edu. After uploading the vaccine card to Med+Proctor, students must email email@example.com to alert the staff that their record has been updated.
Should faculty and staff provide proof of vaccination?
While many employees have voluntarily reported their vaccination status to Human Resources, Seton Hill will ask employees to upload a photo of their vaccination card by July 15 to the secure Med+Proctor site in order to allow the university to plan for the risk mitigation testing that will be required of unvaccinated employees in the fall. Instructions on how to upload your vaccination card to Med+Proctor can be found here. Employees will be presumed to be unvaccinated unless and until they upload proof of vaccination to Med+Proctor.
What vaccines will be accepted?
Any COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use in the United States will be accepted, including Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. Some incoming students may be 17-years-old at the start of the fall semester and may only be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.
How will Seton Hill accommodate international students?
Many of our international students may be vaccinated in other countries that are using vaccines not yet approved in the United States. International students who have received a vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization will be considered compliant with the policy. Seton Hill will also work with international students who are arriving to the United States without vaccination to help them find vaccinations once they arrive. Upon arrival at Seton Hill, unvaccinated international students will need to quarantine for 5 days. Health Services will test students on day 5. If the COVID test is negative, Health Services will direct students to the closest pharmacy / clinic to get a COVID vaccine. International students will need to follow quarantine, testing and masking protocols until they are fully vaccinated.
Are there exemptions?
Students may request an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for medical or religious reasons.
Religious exemption: Students may request an exemption based upon firmly and sincerely held religious beliefs, including moral and ethical beliefs, by completing a religious exemption form for the COVID-19 immunization. Students who have previously received a religious exemption for other immunizations will be required to submit this separate exemption request for the COVID-19 vaccination.
Medical exemption: Students may request a medical exemption by completing a medical exemption form signed by a health care provider with medical contraindication(s) to the vaccine documented. Students who have previously received a medical exemption for other immunizations will be required to submit this separate exemption request for the COVID-19 vaccination.
All exemption forms must be completed and submitted by July 15 in order to allow enough time for review prior to the start of the academic year. New students who enroll after July 15 must upload their exemption request to Med+Proctor for review within one week of enrolling in classes.
How will exemptions be reviewed and decided?
Each exemption request form will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not a waiver should be granted.
What health and safety protocols will be in place for students who receive a vaccine exemption and are unvaccinated?
Students with approved exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine are required to engage in the following risk mitigation practices established by Seton Hill University as influenced by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and/or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Mask wearing and the use of PPE;
- Participating in universal testing for COVID-19 prior to the start of each semester in which the student is enrolled in face-to-face classes or attending on-campus activities;
- Participating in weekly surveillance testing for COVID-19 provided by Health Services;
- Quarantining after out-of-state travel and testing with Seton Hill Health Services as instructed (Note: The ability to make-up work for students who must quarantine due to travel is at the discretion of the faculty member);
- Immediately notifying Seton Hill University Health Services of a positive COVID-19 test, COVID-19 symptoms, or a known or suspected exposure to someone with the virus; and
- Following protocols for testing, contact tracing, isolating, or quarantining.
Students who fail to comply with the COVID-19 Vaccine Policy may be subject to disciplinary action and/or penalties up to and including cancellation of registration for the semester, and/or exclusion from face-to-face classes, university housing, and curricular and extra-curricular campus activities.
What health and safety protocols will be in place unvaccinated employees?
Unvaccinated employees and/or employees who fail to provide Seton Hill with documentation of their COVID-19 vaccine are required to engage in the following risk mitigation practices established by Seton Hill University as influenced by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and/or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Mask wearing and the use of PPE;
- Participating in universal testing for COVID-19 prior to the start of each semester;
- Participating in weekly surveillance testing for COVID-19 provided by Health Services. In seek testing with an outside healthcare provider.
- Quarantining after out-of-state travel or hosting an overnight guest from out-of-state and testing with Seton Hill Health Services as instructed (Note: Work-from-home for employees who must quarantine for travel is at the discretion of their area vice president and is not guaranteed. Employees may need to use vacation or personal days for quarantine due to travel);
- Immediately notifying Seton Hill University Human Resources of a positive COVID-19 test, COVID-19 symptoms, or a known or suspected exposure to someone with the virus and following the COVID-19 Sick Leave Return to Work Policy; and
- Following protocols for testing, contact tracing, isolating, or quarantining.
These mitigation practices are required for employees, regardless of the reason why an individual is not vaccinated or has not reported vaccination. Compliance with these practices is a condition of employment by the University. Noncompliance may lead to discipline, up to and including termination of employment.
What will mitigation efforts look like for vaccinated students and employees?
Fully vaccinated students and employees will not need to participate in universal testing or surveillance testing (unless required by the NCAA for athletics). They will also be exempt from quarantine or testing due to a contact with a COVID-19 positive individual or for travel unless they develop symptoms of COVID-19.
Mask wearing for fully vaccinated individuals will also be lifted on the Seton Hill campus effective immediately. If masking requirements are reinstated at the state or federal level, Seton Hill will implement them accordingly.
Will Seton Hill summer housing require vaccination?
No. However, students are strongly urged to secure their vaccination as soon as possible. The vaccination requirement begins in Fall 2021.
If a booster vaccination is needed, will Seton Hill require it?
Yes. All students will be required to receive a booster vaccination if it is deemed necessary by federal and/or state health officials. Employees should also receive a booster shot as needed in order to remain exempt from risk mitigation efforts on campus.
Will Seton Hill require the flu shot?
Seton Hill added the influenza immunization to its list of required student vaccinations in the 2020-21 academic year and will continue to do so. Students with a valid medical or religious reason why they cannot receive the flu shot will be permitted to request an appropriate exemption. Flu Clinic dates will be announced in the early weeks of the Fall 2021 semester.
QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINES
COVID-19 vaccines are being approved more rapidly than other vaccines. How do I know they are safe?
COVID-19 vaccine safety is a top priority. COVID vaccines have been developed at a more rapid pace than what is normally seen with other vaccines. This does not mean safety steps have been skipped. The development process has been expedited because of the pandemic (e.g., early funding to ramp up manufacturing, overlapping phases of trials). COVID-19 vaccines are going through the same rigorous approval process as other approved vaccines. Data are reviewed/analyzed by independent experts (i.e., not scientists employed by the manufacturer). The independent reviewer recommendations are then presented to the approving agency (e.g., FDA, Health Canada).
Some of the COVID vaccines are utilizing new types of technology. How do I know that these newer vaccines are safe?
Available COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus and do not affect a person’s genetic material (DNA). Scientists have been studying mRNA and viral vector vaccines for >15 years. Even though COVID-19 vaccines are the first mRNA and viral vector vaccines to come to market, it is not new science. Over the years of studying mRNA and viral vector vaccines (e.g., influenza, Zika, cytomegalovirus, rabies, Ebola) researchers have been able to solve problems that previously kept these vaccines from coming to market (e.g., vaccine instability, inflammatory outcomes, modest immune response).
Will the COVID vaccine change my DNA?
No. mRNA vaccines do not interact with a person’s DNA or cause genetic changes because the mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is kept. The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions.
Will the COVID vaccine affect my fertility?
There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in men or women.
Will COVID-19 vaccination lead to a positive COVID-19 test?
No. COVID-19 vaccination will not lead to a positive test for active COVID-19 infection (molecular or polymerase chain reaction [PCR] tests and/or antigen tests). COVID-19 vaccination may lead to a positive test for COVID-19 antibodies (serology tests).
Can a COVID-19 vaccine cause a COVID-19 infection?
No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines that are available or are currently in development use the live SARS-CoV-2 virus.
What is emergency use authorization (EUA)?
EUA is a process through the FDA to allow use of unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved products during an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening conditions when there are no approved alternatives available.
Which vaccine should I get?
The “best” vaccine to get is the one that’s available. All 3 vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson) have at least 85% efficacy at preventing severe COVID-19 (such as cases leading to ICU admissions or death); efficacy seems similar for younger and older adults. None of the vaccines are “live” which means they can be given to immunocompromised patients and pregnant or breastfeeding moms. Growing data suggest these vaccines also decrease asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and transmission.
How long does it take to develop immunity after COVID-19 vaccination; will I need a booster dose?
A person is considered fully vaccinated ≥2 weeks after a 2-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series or ≥2 weeks after a single dose of Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine. The need for and timing of COVID-19 booster doses have not been established. No additional doses are recommended at this time.
If I had COVID-19, do I still need to get vaccinated?
Yes! Previous COVID-19 infection (with or without symptoms) is NOT a contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination.
What are potential adverse effects of the vaccine?
These are similar overall for the 3 vaccines. Most people can expect mild to moderate injection-site pain or soreness; less common is a large, red, itchy reaction around the injection site a week or so after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. This reaction is not uncommon and not a reason to avoid the second dose. Consider getting the second dose in the opposite arm.
Many people will experience systemic reactions (such as fever, malaise, headache, fever, chills, muscle aches), within about two days of vaccination. These usually go away within a day or two. This is a normal response to a vaccine and means the body is building antibodies to prevent infection. Systemic adverse effects may be more likely with the second dose.
Do COVID-19 vaccines increase clot risk?
This concern is due to reports of serious blood clots along with low platelets with the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine in the U.S and the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and other countries. The incidence of a clot post vaccination is rare. The risk of a clot risk due to COVID-19 infection is much higher.
The FDA and CDC “paused” use of this vaccine for a short time to sort out risk factors for these clots and treatment strategies. Safety systems for vaccines are working to catch potential issues. The theory is that an immune response to the vaccine may promote clotting similar to heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). It’s being called “vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).”
There have been no reports of this issue with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines after over 305 million doses.
Why should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?
- Vaccination may reduce illness severity if you become infected with COVID-19
- Immunization will protect friends, family, co-workers, and close contacts from getting COVID-19
- Vaccination gets your immune system ready to fight COVID-19 infection if exposed.
- Vaccination is also an important step in the development of herd immunity and an important tool in the toolbox to end the pandemic
- Vaccination is the safer path toward herd immunity:
- Relying on natural immunity to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19 would mean hundreds of millions of people would have to recover from COVID-19; and during the time it would take for that many to recover, many more people could experience COVID-19 complications or death.
- There is no way to predict COVID-19 infection severity for anyone, and infections can be fatal.
- COVID-19 infection has been associated with long-term consequences, even in young healthy people (e.g., lung, heart, and memory problems; mood changes; kidney damage).
- It is unknown how long natural immunity (antibodies from exposure to the virus through infection) or vaccine-induced immunity (antibodies from vaccination) lasts. Limited vaccine data suggests vaccine-induced immunity may last longer.
Will the vaccine protect against variants?
New variants of the virus that cause COVID-19 are spreading in the United States. Current data suggest that COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States offer protection against most variants. However, some variants might cause illness in some people after they are fully vaccinated.
Should someone who previously received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma for COVID-19 get vaccinated?
There is no data about the use of COVID-19 vaccines in patients who received either monoclonal antibody therapy or convalescent plasma. To avoid any possibility of lessening a patient’s immune response to a COVID-19 vaccine, wait at least 90 days before vaccinating a patient who received either monoclonal antibody therapy.
Do COVID-19 vaccines contain aborted fetal cells?
Available COVID-19 vaccines do NOT contain fetal cells.
What are contraindications or precautions to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?
- History of a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a dose of the same type of COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., mRNA, viral vector).
- History of an immediate allergic reaction of any severity within four hours (e.g., wheezing, hives) to:
- a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine
- any component of the vaccine
- Contraindication to an mRNA vaccine is a precaution to a viral vector vaccine (and vice versa).
Is the single-dose viral vector COVID-19 vaccine as effective as two-dose COVID-19 vaccines?
There is no head-to-head data directly comparing the available COVID-19 vaccines. Experts believe that the single-dose J&J COVID-19 vaccine is NOT inferior to the two-dose mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer). Differences in efficacy rates are likely due to differences in when and where trials were conducted and circulating variants.