I am writing to follow up on the recent announcement that Lehigh University will require all undergraduate and graduate students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in order to access campus for the Fall 2021 semester. In this letter, I provide additional information that is specific to international undergraduate and graduate students.
To meet Lehigh’s requirement, students must receive one of the vaccines authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We recognize that access to COVID vaccines varies greatly worldwide. Lehigh will work with local medical providers to facilitate vaccinations for students who are unable to access an FDA-approved vaccine before coming to campus. We will know more about this process later in the summer, but we can assure you that getting access to an FDA-approved vaccine in the U.S. should not delay your ability to begin classes this fall.
As with Lehigh’s other required immunizations, students may request an exemption for medical or religious reasons. For those who have already received a non-US-FDA-approved vaccine, we expect you may still want to be vaccinated upon arrival, provided this meets established health and safety guidelines. Otherwise, you may also request a medical exemption. Information about requirements for such exemptions and guidance for re-vaccination will be provided by the Lehigh Health and Wellness Center. International students who request an exemption because they have received a different vaccine will still be able to live in university housing and attend classes.
Lehigh has not yet made a determination on quarantine requirements for the fall, because we are waiting for additional guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As the university announced in February, the fall semester will begin on August 23 for undergraduate and graduate students and classes will be primarily in person. We know that those of you who are planning to be on campus need to make travel arrangements. We will share more information on any pre-arrival or quarantine requirements by June 15 so you can plan accordingly.
We know that some students are making plans to return to campus this summer. All undergraduate students who request to live in Lehigh housing beyond June 1 also will be required to be vaccinated. Graduate students living in campus housing must be vaccinated as of July 1. Students who are already in the US should follow information provided by Lehigh about current availability of vaccines. Optional summer programs held away from campus may also require vaccination in order to participate. At this time, we are advising students to follow the current quarantine protocols required by the CDC. If this changes before you arrive in the US, we will notify you.
I hope I have been able to answer some of your questions. As more information becomes available, we will share it promptly. In the meantime, you can learn more on the Lehigh page specifically created for vaccination resources and the FAQs specific to international students. You may also send a question to the Health and Wellness Center at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Office of International Students and Scholars at email@example.com. We will also be holding a campus health and safety session information for newly admitted international undergraduate and graduate students on Monday, April 26, at 9 a.m.
Dr. Cheryl Matherly
Vice President/Vice Provost, International Affairs