COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

Updated 4/12/2021

General COVID-19 Vaccination Questions

Is getting vaccinated required?

There is no federal or state mandate requiring the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the CDC recommends the vaccine for all Americans ages 16 and over. NIU urges all Huskies to get vaccinated to protect themselves, other members of our Pack and their loved ones. It’s an important step on the road that leads back to business as usual on campus.

I am young and healthy. Why should I get vaccinated?

Because it’s really the only known way to end the pandemic. We need as much as 80% of the population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, which will ultimately stop the spread of the virus. Since catching the virus has not proven to provide permanent immunity, vaccination is important to not only protect you from infection, but also to protect your friends and family.

While you might not even show symptoms of the virus if infected, your parents, grandparents and others you interact with can still get infected by coming into contact with you. So get vaccinated to protect the ones you love.

Our ability to return to a “typical” college campus is dependent upon getting as many members of our campus community as possible vaccinated. It improves our ability to safely return to face-to-face classes, reduces risks in our residence halls and dining centers, and relaxes the rules for social events.

Is NIU requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students enrolled for fall 2021?

While vaccines are not mandated, NIU is strongly urging all members of our NIU community to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We know that vaccines currently provide the best protection against the virus, and that the greater the percentage of our campus community who are vaccinated, the lower the risk of an outbreak. So we are asking all Huskies to get vaccinated.

Students who provide proof of vaccination in the fall will be excused from the weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing requirement for the fall 2021 semester. Make sure you take a photo of your vaccine card and keep the card or proof of your vaccination in a safe place.

Finding A Vaccine Clinic

When will I be eligible for a vaccine?

Anyone in Illinois over the age of 16 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 12, 2021. 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?

Any vaccine clinics offered at NIU are conducted by the DeKalb County Health Department (DCHD). The DCHD has been using the Convocation Center for its vaccination clinics this spring. The vaccine they offer differs by day, and they administer what they’ve been provided. The CDC recommends taking whatever vaccine is made available to you at your first opportunity. If you aren’t able to attend an NIU-specific vaccine clinic, there are plenty of other clinic opportunities available on the DCHD website.

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

Once I am vaccinated, can I stop my participation in surveillance testing?

Because the vaccines take up to two weeks to provide full protection, students and employees who are part of the spring 2021 surveillance testing program — even those who have been vaccinated — will be required to continue testing through April 30.

However, students who can provide proof of vaccination in the fall will be excused from the surveillance testing requirement for the fall 2021 semester. Make sure you take a photo of your vaccine card and keep the card or proof of your vaccination in a safe place.

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? Updated

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 get the one-dose Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine in DeKalb County, or wait until after they return home to get vaccinated to avoid a midsummer trip to campus.

Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Vaccine

Is the J&J/Janssen vaccine as effective as the Moderna and Pfizer versions?

Across all trial sites, the J&J/Janssen vaccine showed 85% effectiveness against severe forms of COVID-19 and — like the other two — and nearly 100% effectiveness against hospitalization and death.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines had slightly higher overall effectiveness, but doctors caution against head-to-head comparisons as the testing conditions were not consistent. (For instance, the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were tested before variants of the virus began surfacing.) All three vaccines are deemed to be excellent at preventing infections leading to hospitalization or death.

Vaccine Video Resources

COVID-19 Vaccines FAQ

Vaccine Expert Panel Discussions

February 2021 panel discussion recordings, featuring experts from NIU and the DeKalb County Department of Public Health.

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