8.6.21: Faculty and Staff COVID Vaccination Requirement

A message sent to faculty and staff and shared with students and Lehigh families.

Dear Colleagues,

As part of our fall semester update, we shared that we were in the process of reviewing our faculty and staff COVID vaccination policy.

Because of increasing COVID case counts in the region and new information about the characteristics of the Delta variant, all faculty and staff will be required to be fully vaccinated unless they receive an approved medical or religious exemption from the requirement. While no vaccine provides a guarantee against infection, COVID vaccination is effective at preventing serious illness and death and continues to be the best protection against the spread of more contagious variants of the virus. We believe that this step is necessary to ensure that we can provide the educational environment and workplace that students, faculty and staff expect.

All faculty and staff will be required to confirm that they are fully vaccinated or are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated or apply for a medical or religious exemption by Monday, August 23. Noncompliance with the vaccination requirement will be addressed at the college and stem level as a violation of workplace and university policy. The process for submitting vaccination information and the process for submitting a medical or religious exemption request will follow later next week.

For faculty and staff who have not yet taken the first steps in becoming fully vaccinated, we encourage you to do so today. Schedule an appointment at a location of your choice or register for the upcoming vaccination clinic being held on campus on August 17. At that clinic, first doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered with a return date of September 7 for the second dose. Family members (anyone 12 years of age and older) may also participate free of charge. For more information about COVID vaccines, visit the CDC website.

Anyone who is partially vaccinated and working towards full COVID vaccination, or who receives an approved medical or religious exemption and is unvaccinated, will be required to:

  • Participate in mandatory university COVID surveillance testing
  • Follow CDC guidelines for quarantining if they are identified as a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID
  • Continue to wear a mask indoors, even if the universal masking requirement is lifted
  • Complete a daily symptom self-assessment to gain building access

Unfortunately, COVID case counts across the country and region have begun to increase, and Northampton County has among the highest COVID rates in Pennsylvania. The Delta variant, which is highly transmissible, has become the dominant strain in most areas of the country.

To provide the highest level of protection possible for the Lehigh and South Bethlehem communities, including from other possible variants, widespread vaccination is critical. This requirement will support as safe and successful a semester as possible.

For additional information, visit the FAQs on the Vaccination Resources Center under “Faculty/Staff Vaccine Requirement” and “General Vaccine Information,” which will continue to be updated over the next week.


Nathan Urban

Interim President and Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Patricia Johnson

Vice President for Finance & Administration