Vaccine Requirements for Students FAQ

Why is Suffolk University requiring vaccinations for COVID-19?

Suffolk is requiring students, faculty, and staff to be fully 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 in the fall of 2021. 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.

Who is included in the vaccination requirement?

All members of the campus community — students, faculty, and staff — will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 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 vaccines are available in the U.S.? How can I get vaccinated now?

As of the end of April, 2021, 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.

Any current student who is at least 16 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.

What does it mean to be “fully” vaccinated?

Public health officials consider an individual to be fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

By what date must students be fully vaccinated?

In order to begin the fall semester with a fully vaccinated community, we are requiring all domestic students to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Monday, August 16. You must upload documentation of your vaccination(s) into the Student Health Portal in the same manner that you upload all other vaccine-related information.

International students were sent specific instructions about vaccinations from the International Student Services Office. Please email the office with questions.

Please see the following chart to help you plan your COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Please make your appointments well in advance to ensure you will be fully vaccinated by the August 16 deadline.

Pfizer–BioNTech Vaccine Moderna Vaccine Janssen/Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
To be fully vaccinated by August 16, if you will receive two doses of the Pfizer–BioNTech Vaccine, you must: To be fully vaccinated by August 16, if you will receive two doses of the Moderna Vaccine, you must: To be fully vaccinated by August 16, if you will receive one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson Vaccine, you must:
Receive your first dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech Vaccine by July 12 Receive your first dose of the Moderna Vaccine by July 5 Receive your one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson Vaccine by August 2
Receive your second dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech Vaccine by August 2 Receive your second dose of the Moderna Vaccine by August 2 You will be fully vaccinated by August 16
You will be fully vaccinated by August 16 You will be fully vaccinated by August 16

What if I am not fully vaccinated by August 16? Can I get an extension to submit my vaccination documentation?

Although documentation of your vaccination(s) or request for a medical or religious exemption is due by August 16, we have added a grace period of one additional week for student submissions to prevent you from being blocked unnecessarily.  Students whose information has not been verified will be blocked from access to campus buildings beginning August 23.  Please be patient with the verification process as the volume of submissions is extremely high right now.

We do understand some students (international students and students recently admitted to the University) may not receive their second dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer or Moderna vaccination and be able to upload their documentation by August 16, 2021.

To be considered compliant with Suffolk’s vaccination requirement, such students must obtain and upload documentation of their first dose of the COVID-19 Pfizer or Moderna vaccination by August 16. Failure to do so by August 16 will result in the following consequences:

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 fully 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 permitted to enter any Suffolk University building or participate in any events or activities 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.
  • Early arrival students, including pre-season athletes, student workers, resident assistants, orientation leaders and other student leaders, will not be allowed to access the campus or participate in campus activities until they are fully vaccinated and their documentation is submitted and reviewed.
  • Students who miss the first two weeks of class will be referred to the Enrollment Confirmation Committee for review and possible deregistration.

To get an extension, fill out the vaccination extension form.

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.

What happens if I don’t want to be vaccinated? 

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 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. Documentation from the student’s health provider must be emailed or uploaded to the Student Health Portal.
  • Religious: Consistent with federal and state law, an exemption will be granted to those with a sincerely held religious belief against vaccination. Students 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). The documentation must be emailed or uploaded to the Student Health Portal.

What happens if I do not comply with the vaccination requirement or am not vaccinated by August 23 (the grace period ends) and have not requested an extension?

  • 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 fully 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. If you miss the August 1 deadline, we cannot guarantee your documentation will be reviewed on time to start the semester.
  • Students who miss the first two weeks of class will be deregistered, per the Course Attendance Policy in the student handbook. As a reminder, you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Early arrival students, including pre-season athletes, student workers, resident assistants, orientation leaders and other student leaders, will not be allowed to access the campus or participate in campus activities until they are fully vaccinated and their documents are submitted and reviewed.

If I have an exemption and am not vaccinated what can/can’t I participate in?

If you are granted an exemption you will be able to participate in courses, activities, and intercollegiate athletics, where you must follow COVID-19 protocols determined by the CDC, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and cities of Boston or Madrid at the time, as well as University guidelines. You must participate in on-campus surveillance testing. You will be required to wear a face covering at all times. 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.

For International Students ONLY

Suffolk University understands the unique issues international students may face regarding obtaining a COVID-19 vaccination in your home country. We know COVID-19 vaccinations may not be readily available in some countries. Suffolk is working to develop a plan for international students to be vaccinated once in the U.S. if you are not already fully vaccinated before you arrive. Depending on changes in recommendations, international students may need to arrive in the U.S. earlier than the beginning of the semester. International students can also find up-to-date information on immigration, remote learning, campus operations, and answers to frequently asked questions on our For International Students page.

Will Suffolk accept the vaccination I receive in my home country?

As of May 2021, the University anticipates being able to accept full vaccination with any COVID-19 vaccine approved in a student’s home country, including those without U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. However, Suffolk will need to comply with any state and federal vaccination requirements: It is possible, for example, that the federal government may require COVID-19 inoculation through certain pre-approved vaccines for entry into the U.S. Please note that as of May 6, 2021, guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still requires anyone who has not received one of the FDA-approved vaccines to quarantine after travel or close contact with a COVID-positive individual. The University will continue to follow the latest guidance as well as any additional restrictions issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the federal government and will keep you informed of any changes.

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 the CoVerified app.

Students

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

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.
  • 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 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.

See below for information about what to do if you did not receive a vaccination card or lost your card.

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.