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Fall Semester and COVID-19 Vaccinations

June 22, 2022

To the Saint Louis University community, 

I write to inform you of the COVID-19 vaccine policy for fall 2022. 

In May, I asked Dr. Tricia Austin, interim dean of Doisy College of Health Sciences, to chair a COVID-19 vaccination working group composed of a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students. I charged the group with submitting to me a recommendation regarding the role COVID-19 vaccinations should play, if any, in keeping our campus safely open and in-person this upcoming academic year. 

I have accepted the committee’s recommendations. The vaccination policy for fall 2022 will include these requirements:

Booster doses are strongly encouraged, for now

The committee indicated that the topic of booster doses generated significant discussion. On the one hand, booster doses are highly recommended for the following reasons: 

Boosted students, staff and faculty can avoid required quarantine: Following CDC guidelines, individuals who are up-to-date on vaccination are not required to quarantine when they are a close contact of someone who is infected with COVID-19. If you are eligible to receive one or more booster doses, but have not done so and you are exposed to someone with the virus, you will be required to quarantine. 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 nonclinical employees, this could mean missing work.  

Boosters reduce serious health effects of high-risk community members who get infected: 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.

On the other hand, the currently available booster vaccines do not provide as much protection against infection from the Omicron variant as hoped. 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.

Booster doses may be required at a future date 

Be prepared for a potential booster dose requirement at a later date. Public health officials in the U.S. indicate that they plan to launch a vaccination drive in the fall, when they hope a new COVID-19 vaccine will be available. The new COVID-19 “bivalent” vaccine is designed to fight two strains of SARS-CoV-2, including the Omicron variant. 

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. 

Updating our vaccination portal for fall semester

New graduate and undergraduate students will be able to upload their proof of COVID-19 vaccination later this summer. 

We are currently making improvements to our 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 with any questions regarding COVID-19 vaccine exemptions.

We will notify the University community when the updated vaccination portal is operational.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our community’s well-being. We have stayed 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. We have been successful by using a layered approach to COVID-19 mitigation, following the science, coming together as a community, and making sacrifices. 

Once again, let’s do what needs to be done to be able to return to campus to learn, work, worship and be in community, together safely.

We are OneSLU.


Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.