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SLU COVID-19 Vaccination Information

Saint Louis University requires proof of full COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, staff and faculty who are physically present on our St. Louis campuses. Vaccinations are also required of SLU St. Louis students who will be studying outside the U.S., including on our Madrid campus.

Our vaccination requirements have played a critical role in putting COVID infections in check, allowing SLU to remain open successfully for four consecutive semesters during this pandemic when many other universities have had to pivot to online learning or start or conclude their semesters early.

Throughout the pandemic, our actions have been guided by the University’s strategic objectives, our Jesuit values, data and consensus science, and the expectations of our SLU community. Consultation with students, staff and faculty has always been critical to our efforts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Booster Doses

Is SLU requiring booster doses for the fall 2022 semester?

At this time, booster doses are strongly encouraged but they are not required for the fall 2022 semester. This reflects the latest recommendations from the University's COVID-19 vaccination working group, which is composed of a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students. 

Could booster doses be required in the future?

Yes. You should be prepared for a potential booster dose requirement at a later date. New COVID-19 vaccine formulations with much greater effectiveness against the Omicron variant compared to current boosters are awaiting federal authorization, with likely availability this summer or fall.

If a bivalent vaccine is indeed available for distribution, it is expected to be more protective against infection from strains of the Omicron variant. It makes little sense for the University to require a booster dose at this point in the calendar year when it may prevent individuals from being eligible to obtain a more effective bivalent vaccine booster dose in the upcoming months.

Are there advantages to having a booster dose?

Following CDC guidelines, boosted students, staff and faculty are not required to quarantine when they are a close contact of someone who is infected with COVID-19. Unboosted students and faculty, for example, could miss in-person classes for a minimum of 5 days (without options for Zoom), as well as being excluded from other on-campus activities. For non-clinical employees, this could mean missing work. 

Additionally, individuals from vulnerable populations who receive the booster doses for which they are eligible are at significantly lower risk of having serious illness, requiring hospitalization, and dying from COVID-19. If you are over 65, immunocompromised and/or a member of other high-risk populations, we strongly encourage you to obtain booster doses when you are eligible to do so.

Are contract employees required to get the vaccine?

The University’s vaccine requirement also applies to contract employees, including those working for our food partners at Sodexo, our Allied security partners and those involved in technical services and construction. Sodexo, Allied and all other contract employers will be responsible for managing and enforcing our vaccination requirement for their employees, including the collection of proof and processing exemption requests.

Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination

How do I let SLU know I've been vaccinated ?

SLU has an online portal where students, staff and faculty who are living, studying, working, researching and ministering on our St. Louis campuses can submit proof of vaccination, or submit their request for a medical or religious exemption.

We are currently making improvements to the online portal. The updated portal also will permit those seeking a religious and/or medical exemption from our vaccine requirement to make their request.

Please email vaccineexemption@slu.edu with any questions regarding COVID-19 vaccine exemptions.

New graduate and undergraduate students will be able to upload their proof of COVID-19 vaccination later this summer. We will notify the University community when the updated vaccination portal is operational.

What counts as proof of vaccination?

A digital copy of your completed CDC COVID-19 vaccine card, or of a vaccination card provided by the vaccination site where you obtained a World Health Organization-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

What if I was vaccinated at the Simon Recreation Center through SLU?

You are still required to upload proof of your vaccination into the portal. If you lost your vaccine card, please email pandemic@slu.edu to get a replacement.

What if I am a student or employee who is studying or working fully remote?

If your work or studies never bring you to any of our St. Louis campuses, you are not required to abide by the University’s vaccination requirement. Those who come to campus for periodic work, classes or meetings are required to be vaccinated.

Could booster doses be required in the future?

Yes. You should be prepared for a potential booster dose requirement at a later date. New COVID-19 vaccine formulations with much greater effectiveness against the Omicron variant compared to current boosters are awaiting federal authorization, with likely availability this summer or fall.

If a bivalent vaccine is indeed available for distribution, it is expected to be more protective against infection from strains of the Omicron variant. It makes little sense for the University to require a booster dose at this point in the calendar year when it may prevent individuals from being eligible to obtain a more effective bivalent vaccine booster dose in the upcoming months.

Are there advantages to having a booster dose?

Following CDC guidelines, boosted students, staff and faculty are not required to quarantine when they are a close contact of someone who is infected with COVID-19. Unboosted students and faculty, for example, could miss in-person classes for a minimum of 5 days (without options for Zoom), as well as being excluded from other on-campus activities. For non-clinical employees, this could mean missing work. 

Additionally, individuals from vulnerable populations who receive the booster doses for which they are eligible are at significantly lower risk of having serious illness, requiring hospitalization, and dying from COVID-19. If you are over 65, immunocompromised and/or a member of other high-risk populations, we strongly encourage you to obtain booster doses when you are eligible to do so.

Are contract employees required to get the vaccine?

The University’s vaccine requirement also applies to contract employees, including those working for our food partners at Sodexo, our Allied security partners and those involved in technical services and construction. Sodexo, Allied and all other contract employers will be responsible for managing and enforcing our vaccination requirement for their employees, including the collection of proof and processing exemption requests.

Religious and Medical Exemptions

Can I be exempted from SLU's vaccination requirements?

All students and employees may request a medical and/or religious COVID-19 vaccination exemption.

What will qualify as a medical exemption?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines regarding the medical reasons for which one may not be vaccinated (i.e., medical contraindications). The CDC guidance serves as the foundation for our approval of medical exemptions.

If you are seeking a medical exemption from our COVID-19 vaccine requirement you will need to include a signed letter from your primary licensed healthcare provider detailing your need for medical exemption. This is the same approach the Student Health Center takes when a student seeks an exemption from other required vaccinations, such as meningitis.

Supporting documentation for your COVID-19 vaccination exemption submission is to be completed by your personal health care provider with whom you have an existing patient/ physician relationship. Exemptions completed by a physician friend or family member will not be accepted.

The letter from your primary care provider must describe your specific contraindication to the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose or to component of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Immediate (within four hours of exposure) allergic reaction of any severity to a previous dose or known (diagnosed) allergy to a component of the vaccine.
  • Other medical contraindication. Certifications in the “Other” category are subject to medical review, including consultation with your primary health care provider regarding the condition.

All letters and supporting documentation must be uploaded to the online portal. You can access the "SLU Vaccination Tracker" by logging in to MySLU (myslu.slu.edu) and navigating to the "Tools" tab. Please email vaccineexemption@slu.edu with any questions on vaccination exemptions. Decisions and correspondence regarding this process will come from that email account.

What will qualify as a religious exemption?

A sincerely held religious belief is one that is either part of a traditional, organized religion such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism, as well as non-theistic moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong, which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views. Social, political or personal preferences do not qualify as a religious belief.

Those seeking a religious exemption will need to fill out and upload the Religious Exemption Form in the vaccine portal. The form is a Word document that you can use to write as much as you feel is needed to fully explain your sincerely-held religious belief and the basis for your exemption request.

Download the Religious Exemption Form in the Vaccine Portal

The decision regarding your request will be based solely on your written submission, so it is imperative to state fully all information you wish to be considered as part of your request. There are no appeals from the decision reached.

Please email vaccineexemption@slu.edu with any questions on vaccination exemptions. Decisions and correspondence regarding this process will come from that email account.

What if my reason for not getting the vaccine is because of distant ties to fetal cell lines?

Saint Louis University’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement follows the guidance issued by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), published after receiving approval from Pope Francis.

The CDF noted that “... all vaccinations recognized as clinically safe and effective can be used in good conscience with the certain knowledge that the use of such vaccines does not constitute formal cooperation with the abortion from which the cells used in production of the vaccines derive.” Further, the CDF observed that “ … from the ethical point of view, the morality of vaccination depends not only on the duty to protect one's own health, but also on the duty to pursue the common good. In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, the common good may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most exposed.”

As of July 2021, of the three vaccines most readily available in the U.S., the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were not developed using fetal cell lines. The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine was created in a more traditional manner. Nonetheless, the CDF guidance holds that should the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine not be available or that one’s personal risk requires a “one and done” vaccine, one should accept a J&J or other similar vaccine in support of the common good.

Please email vaccineexemption@slu.edu with any questions on vaccination exemptions. Decisions and correspondence regarding this process will come from that email account.

What doesn’t qualify for a vaccine exemption?
Neither prior infection nor antibody test results will qualify as a vaccine exemption. Please email vaccineexemption@slu.edu with any questions on vaccination exemptions. Decisions and correspondence regarding this process will come from that email account.
What is a personal preference objector?

The option of selecting a “personal preference objection” in the portal is not an approved exemption option. We offer this designation to individuals who do not have a basis for requesting a religious or medical exemption but are still choosing to remain unvaccinated for other reasons.

Students, staff and faculty who make this self-designation need to know that it communicates their intention not to comply with University policy and their understanding that this will result in their removal from the University for at least the fall semester. It also could result in their ultimate separation from the University.

How long will it take for me to know my exemption has been approved?

Our goal will be to sort the exemptions and sign-off on those that meet our requirements — and those that clearly do not — as quickly as we can. But we don’t know exactly how many exemption requests we will receive, and we will have to spend time assessing those that require consideration and judgment.

Please email vaccineexemption@slu.edu with any questions on vaccination exemptions. Decisions and correspondence regarding this process will come from that email account.

How do I contact someone if I have questions about requesting an exemption?

We have created a new email address, vaccineexemption@slu.edu, to help field questions on vaccination exemptions. Decisions and correspondence regarding this process will come from that email account.

What if I am denied an exemption?

If your request for a religious or medical exemption is denied, you are expected to get vaccinated and boosted, once eligible, in order to live, work or learn on our St. Louis campuses at Saint Louis University. There will be a grace period provided to you to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the time of your exemption decision if it is denied.

Will remote learning or working be an option for me if I am denied an exemption?

No. If your request for a religious or medical exemption is denied, you are expected to get vaccinated in order to live, work or learn on campus at Saint Louis University. There will be a grace period provided to you to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the time of your exemption decision. Remote learning and work will not be an option for those who are denied an exemption.

What if I refuse to comply?

A small number of members of our community have voiced their firm refusal to be vaccinated or boosted should their request for an exemption be denied. In the end, we hope our campus community will see that being fully boosted is the optimal way to suppress disease spread among ourselves and one another — and to abide by the common bond of our Jesuit values.

While we hope for 100% compliance with our vaccination requirements (either by being fully vaccinated or obtaining a University-approved medical or religious exemption), we are realistic that valued members of our community will likely not comply, and we must accept that unfortunate reality. Accordingly, the University has adopted recommendations of a working group of faculty, students and staff for a series of escalating actions that ultimately provides for separation from the University for anyone choosing not to comply with the University’s vaccination requirements without a University-approved medical or religious exemption.

What if I am already exempt from other vaccines?

While existing medical or religious accommodations for SLU-mandated vaccines are helpful to your request for exemption, you will still need to apply for a separate exemption from our COVID-19 vaccine requirement using the forthcoming portal.

General FAQ

How do the COVID-19 vaccines work?

Per the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. They do this by leaving the body with a supply of certain cells that will remember how to fight that virus in the future. None of the COVID-19 vaccines are live-virus vaccines.

You can learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work on the CDC website. You’ll also find information about the three types of vaccines currently approved for use, including how they are administered and their possible side effects.

Can I mix and match vaccines when getting my booster shot?

The CDC has given each of us the agency to decide which type of vaccine — Moderna, Pfizer or J&J — we want for our COVID booster dose. You can get the same type of COVID-19 vaccine you received initially, or you can get a different vaccine type. Please speak with your primary care provider if you are unsure which is best for you.

If I am up to date on vaccination and then get exposed to COVID-19, do I still have to quarantine?

Per the latest guidance from the CDC, people who are up to date on vaccination are no longer required to be quarantined if they have had close contact with a COVID-19-positive person. If you are up to date on vaccination, you will not need to quarantine after exposure to an infected individual. You must provide evidence of your vaccination status. The vaccination site provides you with a Vaccination Record Card at the time of immunization. Take a picture of that card and don’t forget to report your vaccination dates to the University.

If I am up to date on vaccination, would I still have to be tested if I have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?

Yes. Based on current CDC guidance, even students who are up to date on vaccination would need to be tested if they were identified through the contact tracing process as a close contact of someone who tested positive or part of a cluster. This also applies to students who are up to date on vaccination and who begin exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, as well as all members of athletics teams that require regular asymptomatic testing per NCAA guidelines.