COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions


COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement General Questions

Which vaccines does NIU accept?

NIU is following the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) guidance and will accept all vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World Health Organization (WHO). Those include:

Will NIU provide vaccine clinics?

Yes, in partnership with the DeKalb County Health Department. More information on those clinics will be forthcoming. However, students should be aware that if they attend these clinics they will likely get the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.

Why is the university enacting these requirements?

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself against COVID-19 and to limit community transmission; requiring it of our students will help assure a safe, in-person experience on campus in the fall.

What proof of vaccination do students need to provide?Updated

NIU will require an official vaccination card or documentation from a medical provider. At the time of vaccination in the United States, each individual is typically provided a vaccination card that lists the type of vaccination (Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson) received, the date(s) it was provided and who (health department, doctor, pharmacist etc.) provided it. The card also has a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logo in the upper right corner. If you lost the card or did not receive one, you can return to the provider and request documentation or contact your state’s health department’s immunization information system. Find your state’s immunization information system online.

International students vaccinated outside of the U.S. will need to provide proof of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.

Updated 7/1/21

When is the deadline for students to provide proof of vaccination?

Students who live in the residence halls or Northern View are required to receive either the two doses of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca/Oxford, or the one dose of Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), before they move into their rooms. Students who do not live in NIU housing but are taking in-person classes should receive the full dose of their vaccines by Friday, August 20.

Do I need to be fully vaccinated before I move into the residence halls or attend in-person classes?

As long as you have received either the two doses of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca/Oxford, or the one dose of Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), before you move into the residence halls or attend in person classes, you will be permitted to do so. Students living in the residence halls who have not had at least two weeks since the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca/Oxford, or the one dose of Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), will be required to take COVID-19 tests administered for free by the university before moving into the residence halls.

Are there exemptions to the student vaccine requirement? If so, what are they?Updated

Students can request one of three exemptions as rationale for not submitting proof of vaccination:

  • Medical: If you choose the medical exemption, you will be required to submit a signed statement of medical exemption from your primary care provider.
  • Religious: If you select the religious exemption, you will need to submit a statement in your own words regarding the grounds for religious exemption. Your objection must set forth the specific religious belief that conflicts with the immunization and may be personal and need not be directed by the tenets of an established religious organization. General philosophical or moral reluctance to allow immunizations will not provide an enough basis for an exception to the requirements. Your statement must be signed and dated and  include your full name and NIU Z-ID. If you are under 18, the statement must also be signed by your parent or guardian. Please include in the statement that you are requesting a religious exemption for the COVID-19 vaccination requirement. 
  • Personal: If you choose the personal exemption, you will check a box acknowledging the choice and that your exemption only applies until vaccines transition from Emergency Use Authorization status to full approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

The university will notify students within 3 business days from submission if their requests are approved.

Updated 7/13/21

What restrictions will be placed on students who are not vaccinated?Updated

Students who cannot provide proof of vaccination and are granted exemptions will be required to participate in weekly campus surveillance testing. Students who have not been vaccinated also are required to wear masks at all times indoors unless alone in their private work or living spaces. Non-compliance with masks and testing could result in disciplinary measures, including being removed from a residence hall or classes.

Updated 7/1/21

Why are students required to get fully vaccinated, but not employees?

The overwhelming majority of cases of COVID-19 on campus last year were among students, not employees. All employees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to participate in weekly surveillance testing. The university continues to strongly encourage employees to get vaccinated. Additionally, they must wear masks at all times on campus unless they are working in private offices. Non-compliance with masks and testing could result in disciplinary measures.

If I have had my first vaccine appointment but not my second by the time I arrive on campus, will you allow me to start classes?

Students moving into campus housing will be required to provide proof that they have received the full dose of their chosen vaccine. They can move in as soon as they provide proof that the dose is administered (without waiting an additional two weeks per the DeKalb County Health Department).

Students not living in residence halls who have been only partially vaccinated will not be permitted to attend in-person classes until they provide proof that the second dose is administered (without waiting an additional two weeks per the DeKalb County Health Department).

COVID-19 Vaccine Incentive

Why is NIU providing a financial incentive to get vaccinated if the vaccine is required?

Many students cannot afford possible lost time at work or transportation costs to a vaccine clinic. The $100 incentive will help offset those costs.  Additionally, we want to reward those who have already been vaccinated and, given the emergence of problematic virus variants, incentivize those who have not been vaccinated to become so as quickly as possible.

International Students

What is the process for international students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and show proof of vaccination? Updated

To be considered vaccinated, all students – domestic or international – must provide proof that they have received the full dose of any of the following vaccines: Janssen (Johnson & Johnson); Moderna; Pfizer/BioNTech; or AstraZeneca.

The university will host clinics where students can receive these vaccines for free.

International students have the following options:

  • If you are completely unvaccinated, you can opt for either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two doses of the Pfizer administered at least 21 days apart or two doses of the Moderna vaccine, to be administered at least 28 days apart. If you have received a single dose of Pfizer or Moderna, you can receive your second dose, as long as it has been at least 21 (Pfizer) or 28 days (Moderna) since the initial dose.
  • If you have received a vaccine not approved by the FDA – these include the AstraZeneca – you can choose from the three available FDA-approved options and are eligible to get inoculated as long as it has been at least 28 days since you received the other vaccine.

Students will then log into their MyNIU accounts to upload their proof of vaccination.

Updated 7/1/21

Additional Vaccine Questions

I lost my COVID-19 vaccination card. How do I get a replacement?
  • Contact your vaccination provider directly to access your vaccination record.
  • If you cannot reach the vaccination provider, contact your state health department’s immunization information system. Find your state’s immunization information system online.
  • If you enrolled in v-safe or VaxText, you can access your vaccination information through those tools.
Can I request to live with someone who is vaccinated?
No. Because of confidentiality laws pertaining to personal medical information, the university cannot make room assignments based on someone’s private medical history. For that same reason, we cannot share information relating to students’ vaccination status.

Finding A Vaccine Clinic

When will I be eligible for a vaccine?

Anyone in Illinois over the age of 12 is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. You should take advantage of the first opportunity to get vaccinated that you are offered.

Which vaccine will I get if/when NIU offers it? And why?

The DeKalb County Health Department (DCHD) offers vaccine clinic at several locations. Clinic opportunities are listed on the DCHD website. The vaccine offered differs by day, and the clinic administers what it has been provided. The CDC recommends taking whatever vaccine is made available to you at your first opportunity. 

Vaccine Release Time, Side Effects and Recovery

Does the university allow release time for employees to get the vaccine?

Yes. The university has authorized release time for employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, including hourly operating staff. Employees who wish to receive the vaccine should coordinate with their supervisors, and supervisors are asked to facilitate participation for those who secure appointment times for the vaccine.

Should I fill out the Protecting the Pack checklist if I don’t feel well after receiving a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

If after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine you experience side effects (fever, chills, fatigue, headache and body aches), please do not immediately submit a COVID-19 Screening Checklist. A checklist should only be submitted if side effects begin or last four days following vaccination with day one being the date of your vaccination. For example, if the day of your vaccination is Thursday, only submit a COVID-19 Screening Checklist if side effects begin or last beyond Sunday.

After You Are Vaccinated

Moderna and Pfizer Vaccines

Do I have to take the second dose? What happens if I don't take the second dose?

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require two doses, given weeks apart, to get the most protection. Failure to get the second dose of those vaccines will diminish the protection that you receive by nearly half. It’s important to remember that it’s not unusual for many vaccinations to require two, or even three, doses.

Can I schedule my second dose at a different location than my first dose?

Illinois Department of Public Health guidance says patients should schedule an appointment to receive their second dose of vaccine at the same location where they received their first dose, to help ensure proper allocation of doses to providers.

So, consider whether you’ll be able to easily return to the original location for your second dose. For instance, students returning home for the summer may want to wait until after they return home to get vaccinated to avoid a midsummer trip to campus.

Updated 4/13/21

Vaccine Video Resources

Vaccination Fears

Good Morning America, April, 2021

Corbett, who helped develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, answers questions related to how long the vaccine is expected to last and other developing news.

Vaccine Expert Panel Discussions

Panel discussion recordings, featuring experts from NIU and the DeKalb County Department of Public Health

March 15, 2021

February 2021

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