Vaccine Requirements

Page Updated: December 16, 2021

Who is included in the vaccination requirement?

All members of the campus community — students, faculty, and staff — are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Public health officials consider an individual to be fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the initial series of shots. This requirement applies to all current and incoming students regardless of the number of credits for which they are enrolled. Only students who are on leaves of absence, students studying in fully online programs, and international students studying from their home countries are not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Online students must be vaccinated if they intend to come to campus.

What is the Suffolk University COVID vaccine requirement? Does this include boosters?

All faculty, staff and students who have not already done so must submit their vaccination record by December 1, 2021, if they plan to work or attend classes on campus in the Spring semester. All individuals must be two weeks post the final dose of the following by January 18th, 2022, the first day of class:

  • Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (two doses 3 weeks apart)
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (two doses 4 weeks apart)
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (one dose)

As was the case for the fall semester, students, faculty and staff who wish to request an exemption from the COVID vaccine for either medical or religious reasons must submit their request by December 1. If your vaccine information or exemption was approved in the fall, you do not need to resubmit. Instructions on how to submit a request for a medical or religious exemption are provided on this page.

In addition, all members of the community must receive a booster shot as soon as they are eligible or by March 1, 2022, whichever is later. See the boosters page for more detail.

Documentation of vaccines and boosters is required.

Vaccine Documentation - What should I do with my COVID-19 Vaccine information?

Faculty and Staff

COVID vaccine information for Suffolk faculty and staff must be uploaded to Medicat. The link will take you to the portal, where you will need to log in using your Suffolk University username and password. Click on the “Immunization” button at the top of the page and follow the instructions to upload your vaccine information.

Students

COVID vaccine information for Suffolk students must be uploaded to the CHW student health portal.

Why is Suffolk University requiring vaccinations for COVID-19?

Suffolk is requiring students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to protect the health and safety of our community, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The vaccinations are extremely effective and the best tool we have to ensure that we can have a vibrant campus this year. There are a number of benefits to this vaccination requirement, including:

  • It helps prevent severe COVID-19 infection and the potential for related serious and/or long-term adverse health effects among students, faculty, and staff;
  • It significantly reduces the likelihood of transmission among members of the Suffolk Community;
  • It creates a safer, more secure environment for Suffolk community members by drastically reducing the potential for COVID-19 outbreaks on campus;
  • It helps to alleviate anxiety and discomfort for students, faculty, and staff who are fearful of COVID-19;
  • It helps to provide clarity about the upcoming academic year;
  • It may help contribute to the reduction of COVID-19 spread in surrounding communities;
  • It reflects the University’s support of and contribution to a larger public health endeavor with global implications; and
  • It provides clear signals to prospective, new, and current students and their families about the importance of safety and health at Suffolk.

What vaccines are available in the U.S.? How can I get vaccinated now?

If you live in the U.S. you must receive one of the following vaccines in order to meet the fully vaccinated requirement:

  • Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (two doses 3 weeks apart)
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (two doses 4 weeks apart)
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (one dose)

You may obtain your vaccination(s) in Massachusetts or out-of-state. You do not have to obtain your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) at the same location as your first vaccination. For example, you may receive your first vaccination in Massachusetts and your second vaccination (Pfizer or Moderna) in another state.

Anyone who is at least 5 years old and lives, works, or studies in Massachusetts is eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination(s) now. For those of you intending to obtain your vaccination(s) in Massachusetts, please go to the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccination information page for information about how and where to obtain a vaccination.

To obtain your vaccination(s) outside of Massachusetts, view the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine. You may schedule an out-of-state appointment via the CDC vaccination page. You do not have to obtain your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) at the same location as your first vaccination.

Do I need to be vaccinated if I have already had COVID-19?

Yes. Anyone who previously had COVID-19 will still be required to be vaccinated. The immunity acquired post-infection lasts about 90 days. The immunity acquired post-vaccination lasts much longer.

Students who have had COVID-19 may receive the vaccine as soon as they have completed their isolation period. The only exception is students who have received convalescent plasma or antibody treatments while ill. In these cases, students should wait 90 days before obtaining the vaccine as these treatments can reduce the response to the vaccine. If you find yourself in this situation, please schedule a telehealth appointment with a Suffolk University Counseling, Health and Wellness (CHW) nurse practitioner via the Student Health Portal.

Will there be any exemptions to the vaccination requirement? 

There will be two permitted exemptions to the University’s vaccination requirement as is the case with every mandated vaccine at Suffolk University.

  • Medical: A medical exemption from the vaccine requirement will be granted to students, faculty, and staff for whom receiving the COVID-19 vaccination is medically inadvisable, as well as persons who are pregnant or lactating or expressing milk for a nursing child who choose not to get vaccinated.
  • Sincere Religious: Consistent with federal and state law, an exemption from the vaccine requirement will be granted to those with a sincerely held religious belief against vaccination. Anyone seeking this exemption must submit documentation of their sincerely held religious objection to vaccination written in their own voice (the letter will not be accepted if written by a parent or a religious authority).

Students

  • For students seeking a medical exemption from the vaccine requirement, documentation from the student’s health provider must be emailed or uploaded to the Student Health Portal.
  • Students seeking a religious exemption from the vaccine requirement must email or upload documentation to the Student Health Portal.
  • Please note: this process should not be used for any person seeking a medical or religious exemption from the booster requirement announced on December 15, 2021. Information on that process will be forthcoming.

Faculty and Staff

Faculty and staff who wish to request an exemption from the COVID vaccine for either medical or religious reasons should go to the Service Now portal to submit their request. Please note: this process should not be used for any person seeking a medical or religious exemption from the booster requirement announced on December 15, 2021. Information on that process will be forthcoming.

What happens if I do not comply with the vaccination requirement?

The following action will be taken against students who have not completed and uploaded qualifying documentation of two doses of Pfizer–BioNTech or Moderna or one dose of Janssen/Johnson & Johnson

  • Non-compliant residential students will not be allowed to access the campus or participate in campus activities until they are vaccinated and their documents are submitted and reviewed.
  • Non-compliant residential students will not be allowed to move into campus residence halls. Those who arrive to campus without correctly submitted documentation of being vaccinated will be required to stay at a hotel or off campus, at the student’s expense, until fully vaccinated and/or documentation is submitted and reviewed.
  • All non-compliant students will not be allowed to attend class until fully vaccinated and/or documentation is submitted and reviewed.

Faculty and Staff

Unless an exemption is granted under a formal process for the two permitted exemptions (medical, sincere religious), faculty and staff are required to be vaccinated.

Any faculty or staff member refusing to follow the University’s safety and health protocols without a documented and approved exemption will not be able to remain on or access Suffolk’s facilities. This will not constitute an exemption to allow the employee to work remotely and will be treated as an unexcused and unapproved absence, resulting in the employee being placed on unpaid leave until the employee is in full compliance.

If I am not vaccinated and have an approved exemption, are there additional safety measures needed on campus?

If you are on a Suffolk campus and have been granted an exemption, you will need to follow COVID protocols determined by guidance from public health officials and the University at that time. You must participate in on-campus surveillance testing. You will be required to wear a face covering at all times. Counseling, Health, and Wellness (CHW) will communicate with you about the testing requirement.

If I am vaccinated, do I have to wear a face covering?

Face coverings must be worn by fully vaccinated individuals in certain locations. Please see the University’s Policy on face coverings.

If I am vaccinated, is there any limit to my movement on campus?

Suffolk will follow the mandates of the cities of Boston or Madrid and state of Massachusetts for any physical distancing and occupancy limits on our campus.

What if I don’t believe the vaccines are safe?

The following websites provide information on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine:

Which vaccine should I get?

The CDC recommends that the best COVID-19 vaccine is the first one available to you. Specific information about each of the approved vaccines is available on the CDC website.

Will the University be requiring other vaccinations for students?

Massachusetts requires students to be vaccinated against certain diseases. As mandated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Suffolk University requires students to submit and update their medical documentation to the Student Health Portal. View a complete listing of required immunizations. You should check the Student Health Portal regularly to ensure your required immunizations are up-to-date.

Vaccination card and your second shot

From the CDC:

  • At your first vaccination appointment, you should have received a vaccination card that tells you what COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it. Bring this vaccination card to your second vaccination appointment and booster appointments.
  • If you did not receive a COVID-19 vaccination card at your first appointment, contact the vaccination provider site where you got your first shot or your state health department to find out how you can get a card.
  • Bring your vaccination card with you to your second shot appointment and booster appointments so your provider can fill in the information about your second dose.
  • Keep your vaccination card in case you need it for future use. Consider taking a picture of your vaccination card after your second shot appointment as a backup copy.

What should I do if I lose my COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card?

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health you have a few options:

  • Contact your healthcare provider or the location where you were vaccinated. They can print out another copy of your record.
  • Your record will also be in v-safe, if you enrolled in the program.

You can fill out an Immunization Record Request Form that goes directly to the state Department of Public Health. If you use this form, you will get a complete history of all vaccines you’ve received, not just the COVID-19 vaccine, and it can take up to 6 weeks to get your records.