Answers to your questions about UA's vaccine requirement

Why is the University of Akron requiring vaccinations?

Throughout the pandemic, the University has taken measures to help keep our campus community safe and healthy. The rising prevalence of the more transmissible Delta variant is fueling the resurgence of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations – including in young and otherwise healthy people. With the news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, The University of Akron will require every student, faculty, contract professional and staff member to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and to provide proof of that vaccination history. The University is taking this step because vaccines are the safest and most effective form of protection against COVID-19. We are focused on enhancing the health and safety of our community.

The good news is that the combination of vaccination and mask wearing is effective at slowing down the spread of COVID-19 and keeping us safe. That is why we are implementing our vaccine requirement with urgency as well as continuing our policy to require everyone to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, (except for private offices and residences).

Which COVID-19 vaccines qualify for this requirement?

A COVID-19 vaccine will qualify under this policy if the vaccine has:

  • Full U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval
  • FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)
  • World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL)

As of August 23, 2021, Pfizer (2 dose) has received full FDA approval. Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (1 dose) and Moderna (2 dose) have FDA EUA.

For the status of COVID-19 vaccines included on the WHO EUL, please see the WHO’s (World Health Organization) COVID-19 vaccine website.

Are vaccinations safe?

Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. COVID-19 vaccines were evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization before receiving full approval.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 363 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States from December 14, 2020, through August 23, 2021.

We realize that vaccinations may not be for everyone due to health, sincerely held religious beliefs or for reasons of conscience. For those in these categories we have created an exemption process. The process and forms can be found on our Coronavirus Information page under the "Vaccine requirement" panel.

What is the deadline for vaccination to meet the requirement?

The deadline for all University of Akron students, faculty, contract professionals and staff to be fully vaccinated is Monday, December 13, 2021.

Which COVID-19 vaccines qualify for this requirement?

A COVID-19 vaccine will qualify under this policy if the vaccine has:

  • Full U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval
  • FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)
  • World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL)

As of August 23, 2021, Pfizer (2 dose) has received full FDA approval. Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (1 dose) and Moderna (2 dose) have FDA EUA.

For the status of COVID-19 vaccines included on the WHO EUL, please see the WHO’s (World Health Organization) COVID-19 vaccine website.

What if I do not get either a COVID-19 vaccine or an exemption by the December 13, 2021, deadline?

If an individual is not either fully vaccinated or has received approval for an exemption by the December 13, 2021, deadline:

For students:

  • Starting in Spring 2022, existing students will be ineligible to participate in on-campus experiences, including in-person classes or living in the residence halls. 
  • Students who intend to enroll for the first time in Spring 2022 will be subject to the same vaccination requirements to participate in in-person classes, live in University residence halls or otherwise take part in on-campus experiences.

For faculty, staff, and contract professionals:

  • Further progressive discipline in keeping with University policy and collective bargaining agreements.

I am concerned that I might miss work or class due to the side effects of the vaccine.

Students, faculty, contract professionals and staff should stay home when they are feeling sick — regardless of the reason they believe they are feeling ill.

If students are feeling sick after a vaccination, they should contact their instructors as they would for any other illness to make arrangements. Instructors are encouraged to provide flexibility in these cases.

If faculty or staff members are feeling sick after a vaccination, they may use sick time to stay home. They should follow the normal process for informing their manager or chair when they are sick. If they do not have leave balances, they should contact their HR professional for assistance.

Who will have access to my vaccination data?

Individual vaccination data will be shared only to the extent needed for compliance and non-compliance measures and for public health purposes such as contact tracing.

I am working remotely. Does this policy apply to me?

Maybe. You are exempt from this policy if you do not have any on campus presence. However, if you plan to be on campus to use office space, attend meetings, or engage in-person activities then this policy applies to you.

All my classes are online. Does this policy apply to me?

Maybe. If all your classes are online yet you want to use the library, visit friends, or attend an on-campus in-person activity, then you must be vaccinated or seek an exemption. If all of your classes are online and you have no campus presence, the vaccine requirement does not apply to you.

What exemptions are allowed under this policy?

Health-related

An individual can request a health-related exemption through submission of appropriate documentation from their treating health care provider. Any health-related exemptions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Human Resources for employees and/or Student Health Services for students.

In addition, those with a history of allergic reactions to other vaccines or medical injections will be considered for exemptions on a case-by-case basis with appropriate documentation of the allergic reaction provided by the individual’s treating health care provider.

Religious or Reasons of Conscience

An exemption based on an individual’s sincerely held religious beliefs or reasons of conscience can be requested. Employees and students must submit a request for religious and personal exemptions. As part of the request, the employee must attest to their reason for exemption and provide an explanation. All religious and personal exemptions for students will be reviewed by Student Health Services, Dean of Students, and with the Office of General Counsel. Exemptions for employees will be reviewed by EEO.

What does religious or reason of conscience mean?

A religious or conscientious exemption may be granted if the individual holds:

  • sincere religious beliefs, practice, or observance that are contrary to the practice of vaccination or
  • holds a sincere moral or philosophical conviction, such as the conviction that health and disease should not be controlled by vaccination.

Where can I get an exemption form?

Forms are available at www.uakron.edu/return-to-campus under the "Vaccine requirement" panel. It's at the top of the page.

Will I have to face more stringent health protocols if I receive an exemption?

Yes. For the health and safety of our community, individuals who receive an exemption from being vaccinated will be subject to complete frequent up-to-weekly COVID-19 testing (this applies to students, faculty, contract professionals and staff).

Why are you testing only those who have not registered as having received a vaccine?

We are limiting our testing to those who have not registered as having received a vaccine, since unvaccinated individuals are more likely to be carriers and transmitters of the coronavirus.

The University is closely following CDC guidelines and is receiving direct guidance from the Summit County Health Department.

Can I submit an exemption after my first dose if I do not feel safe getting another?

We strongly encourage everyone to complete their vaccination series to maximize the effectiveness. If someone has an extenuating circumstance that warrants an exemption, that process will still be available.

If I have already received my vaccination, or once I do, how do I report that information?

You should upload your vaccination records into Med+Proctor. A link and instructions are located at www.uakron.edu/return-to-campus or follow the COVID-19 link at the top of most of our webpages.

How does this impact students in the College Credit Plus, Akron Early College, or National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School students?

The University of Akron will not require students in the College Credit Plus, Akron Early College, or National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School programs to be vaccinated. These students should follow vaccination guidance provided by their home school district.

I work on campus every week but not for the University; do I need to be vaccinated?

We require you to wear a mask while inside any of our campus buildings.

You should follow the guidance of your employer for vaccination requirements.

I am an incoming international student and do not have access to one of the vaccines on the list. Can I get vaccinated after arrival?

The University is currently working with local vaccination providers to offer vaccinations to students, faculty, staff and contract professionals. As those opportunities become available, we will post them on our COVID-19 guide, at uakron.edu/return-to-campus.

I am a new student for Spring 2022. Will I need to be vaccinated?

Yes, you should be vaccinated and have your vaccination records up-loaded to Med+Proctor before attending any on-campus classes or events.

I heard Ohio made it illegal to required COVID-19 vaccines?

The Ohio 134th General Assembly, Amended House Bill 244 goes into effect October 13, 2021. It prohibits a state institution of higher education from requiring an individual to receive a vaccine for which the United States Food and Drug Administration has not granted full approval. Section 3792.04. Division (B)(1).

Though it was legally permissible to require vaccination up to October 12, UA and other public universities in the state waited for full FDA approval so that students and employees would have clear instructions about vaccine requirements. There have been reports in the media about additional measures being proposed in the Ohio House and Senate, but so far those remain in various committees and their likelihood of becoming a bill for a floor vote is unknown.

If I currently work totally remote as an instructor and I have a testing exemption, do I have to file for a vaccine exemption?

Yes, we would suggest it. Currently they are two different approval systems and although they may be merged in the future just to make sure that there is no mis-understanding, we suggest that you submit the additional form

Does this change any refund, add or drop dates this semester?

All current dates for refunds, or adding/dropping classes remain the same.

When is the next vaccination clinic?

Currently our health care partners, Klein's Pharmacy, can administer a vaccination to faculty, staff or students M-Th from 8am until noon at the Quaker Square residence hall ballroom. The address for Quaker Square is 130 Mill St. Akron Ohio 44325

How long does it take for exemption approval?

Generally it takes 1-2 days. However, we are experiencing a higher than normal request volume, so please allow some additional time.

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