COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement General Questions

Which vaccines does NIU accept?Updated

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:

Updated 9/2/21

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 and employees 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 8/31/21

When was the deadline for students to provide proof of vaccination?Updated

Students who live in the residence halls or Northern View were 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 received the full dose of their vaccines by Friday, August 20.

Updated 8/25/21

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

As long as you have received either the two doses of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Covidshield, Sinopharm or Sinovac, 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, AstraZeneca/Oxford, Covidshield, Sinopharm or Sinovac, 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.

Updated 9/2/21

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

Prior to the start of classes, students could 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.
  • 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. UPDATE: As of 8/23/21, the FDA fully approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. NIU students who received a Personal Exemption prior to this date should move forward with getting vaccinated. Proof of vaccination will be required in order to register for Spring semester courses. 

Updated 8/25/21

Do I need to be vaccinated or participate in surveillance testing this semester if my courses are online?New

If your classes are strictly online AND you will not be on campus OR participating in an in-person, NIU-sponsored experiential learning opportunity (student teaching, clinicals, internships, etc.), you are not required to get the vaccine or participate in weekly surveillance testing, but will need to complete the REMOTE EXEMPTION form as soon as possible in order to be in compliance with university protocols.


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

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

COVID-19 Vaccine FDA Approval and Personal Exemptions

I took the Personal Exemption until vaccines received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. What does the 8/23/21 full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine mean for me?New

NIU students who received a Personal Exemption while vaccinations were under Emergency Use Authorization status should move forward with getting vaccinated now that the Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Proof of vaccination will be required in order to register for Spring semester courses.

Added 8/23/21

Is there a deadline by which students must now be vaccinated? New

Students will be required to provide proof of vaccination before they will be allowed to register for spring classes. The first day to register for spring classes is Nov. 1, so those wishing to register at the earliest possible time must have proof of vaccination on file by that date.

Added 8/25/21

Vaccine Incentive

When will I receive my incentive?New

Incentive credits were processed in early September. If you choose to have the vaccine credit refunded directly, the $100 will be sent directly to you either via direct deposit or a check in the mail to your permanent address. Please allow 2-3 days for the refund to post as direct deposit to your bank account or up to 7 business days if a check has been mailed.

Added 9/3/21

International Students

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

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

If I am vaccinated and demonstrate proof of vaccination, will I still have to wear a mask on campus?

All employees, students and guests, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear a mask indoors while on campus. You're expected to supply and maintain your own face masks. Bandanas and neck gaiters—made of thin, stretch tubes of fabric down the neck—aren’t effective for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and are not acceptable face coverings while on campus.  

If you can't wear a face mask because of a disability, contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) as soon as possible. The DRC will determine any reasonable accommodations. Faculty can request to view any approved accommodation documentation you receive from the DRC.

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

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