12.22.21: COVID Booster Requirement for Students, Faculty and Staff

A message sent to members of the Lehigh community and Lehigh families. 

Updated Dec. 30, 2021 RE: Exemptions- 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 provide additional information as described on the FAQ linked on our Vaccination Resources Center: "Can I submit a medical or religious exemption request for the COVID booster?"

--

Dear Members of the Lehigh Community and Lehigh Families, 

We previously shared that, given the waning effectiveness of vaccines over time, the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and mounting evidence that boosters provide important protection against COVID, the COVID Response Team (CRT) was assessing the possibility of requiring a COVID booster shot for those who are eligible. 

Today, we are writing to share that as an extension of the university’s COVID vaccination requirement, we will require all eligible students, faculty and staff who did not receive an approved medical or religious exemption to receive a COVID booster for the Spring 2022 semester. The deadline to submit official documentation for all continuing students, faculty and staff will be Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. This deadline will allow time for processing and validating records before the start of the spring semester. We are sharing this requirement now so those who are eligible to get the booster over the holidays may do so before the deadline or set up an appointment as soon as possible. See below for more details about timelines, booster eligibility, and the records submission process for students, faculty and staff.    

Process and Timeline for Continuing Undergraduate and Graduate Students:

  • Students who have already received their booster should upload information to the Health and Wellness Center Patient Portal

  • All continuing undergraduate and graduate students participating in on-campus programs and activities will be required, if eligible, to get their booster and to submit their vaccination information to the Health and Wellness Center through the Patient Portal by Jan. 14

  • Those who become eligible AFTER Jan. 14 will need to get their booster shot and provide documentation within 14 days after they become eligible. 

  • Graduate students who will not be participating in any on-campus programs and activities and are not enrolling in any course sections with a campus component must complete the survey linked here.

Process and Timeline for Faculty and Staff:

  • In accordance with the emergency temporary standard issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all Lehigh employees without an approved medical or religious exemption are required by law to provide evidence (i.e., vaccination card or other official documentation) of their vaccination status. The vaccination attestation completed by faculty and staff in the fall is not sufficient to meet the OSHA standard.   

  • Faculty and staff will receive separate instructions via email for confirming their booster shot and vaccination status by the deadline. 

  • Those who become eligible AFTER Jan. 14 will need to get their booster shot and provide documentation within 14 days after they become eligible. 

Exemptions

  • Updated Dec. 30, 2021 RE: Exemptions- 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 provide additional information as described on the FAQ linked on our Vaccination Resources Center: "Can I submit a medical or religious exemption request for the COVID booster?"

  • Those exempt from the vaccination requirement must be tested weekly, follow CDC guidelines for quarantining if identified as a close contact, complete a daily symptom self-assessment and wear a face covering (even if that requirement is lifted for vaccinated employees).

Booster Eligibility

Visit our Vaccination Resources page for additional answers to frequently asked questions. 

Noncompliance with the booster requirement for students will result in students being unable to access their residence hall and campus buildings and may result in an expedited student code of conduct process. Failure to be in compliance will result in dis-enrollment from spring courses. Faculty and staff noncompliance will be addressed at the college and stem level as a violation of workplace and university policy.

Studies have shown that vaccination is effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID, but vaccination protection against the virus and variants may decrease over time. Unfortunately, with the spread of Omicron, many campuses across the country experienced a marked rise in their COVID infections rates at the end of their fall semesters, leading to remote exams and the cancellation of in-person activities. At Lehigh, as we build on our successful fall semester together in person and look ahead to the spring, boosters will be a necessary component of our health and safety protocols to support and preserve a successful semester together on campus with in-person instruction and activities.

As a reminder, unless there are significant updates, COVID messages and dashboard updates will be paused the week of Dec. 27, and updates through January will be as needed. Over the winter break, we are continuing to conduct COVID testing and monitor conditions on campus and in the surrounding community, and we will continue to keep the Lehigh community updated and informed of any new updates as we approach the spring semester. 

-COVID Response Team