Dear AU Community,
With beautiful spring days highlighting so many amazing features of our campus, we continue to build our exciting fall plans. As we plan to be together as a community and safely enjoy our active residential campus, we know that COVID-19 will continue to present challenges and that we all have a responsibility for creating and supporting the conditions for a safe, healthy return to full in-person experiences. This includes following health guidance and getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
The good news is that COVID-19 vaccinations are quickly expanding around the country, with more than 120 million people already receiving at least one dose. I strongly encourage all members of the AU community, wherever you are, to get your COVID-19 vaccination when you are eligible. Most people will be eligible within the next few weeks as supply and access continue to grow, and states open eligibility to all individuals age 16 and above by April 20.
There has been understandable interest in whether American University will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students in the fall semester. As we thought through this important question, we considered vaccine availability and eligibility, the systems needed to track vaccinations within our community, developments at other higher education institutions, advancing the health and safety of the AU community, and how to address questions of equity, among other variables. After weighing the many considerations, we are announcing that all American University students who reside on-campus or come to campus for any reason in the fall will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
This requirement is an important component of our return to campus in the fall. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the spread of the disease and are very effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization. While public health measures like face coverings and physical distancing will likely be part of our fall operations, robust vaccination in our community will enable us to expand activities and interactions that enrich the educational, research, and social experiences that are fundamental to AU.
Undergraduate, graduate, and WCL students will provide proof of vaccination in a similar fashion to other vaccines that are already required by university policy. Any COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use in the United States (currently Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson) will be accepted. Some incoming students may be 17 years old at the start of the fall semester and only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. We are also monitoring the current FDA/CDC review of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and will follow guidance from FDA, CDC, and our local health authorities. Specific instructions for submitting proof of COVID-19 immunizations will be forthcoming in May.
Many of our international students may be vaccinated in other countries that are using vaccines not yet approved in the US. We are seeking further guidance about how to manage this situation and will communicate directly with these students. For international students who may be returning for fall semester and are not yet vaccinated, we will provide information about how to acquire a vaccine when you arrive in the US.
Students may request an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for medical or religious reasons following existing protocols. Students enrolled in fully online degree programs with no campus presence will not need to provide proof of vaccination. Students that have assignments in AU housing for the fall will need to provide verification of vaccination or exemption approval prior to August move-in. FAQs are available on the AU website and questions about the COVID-19 vaccination requirement can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Concurrently, we continue to strongly recommend that all AU faculty and staff get immunized against COVID-19 at the earliest opportunity available based on your eligibility. Further work is underway to determine if there will be a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for faculty and staff, and we will provide additional information in the coming weeks.
You can find details about COVID-19 vaccinations from the CDC’s vaccine location webpage, which includes search boxes for state health departments or the national Vaccine Finder website, which will direct you to relevant locations in your vicinity. Additionally, you can review your county or state health department websites, or you can contact your personal health care provider. Thank you for being proactive and preparing for fall by registering now and getting vaccinated when your turn comes.
Please remember that all members of the AU community, including those who are vaccinated, are required to wear face coverings, maintain physical distancing, and follow all other health and safety protocols.
Thank you for your commitment to the health and safety of our community. It is the most important thing we can do to ensure the in-person fall semester we all seek will be successful.
Be safe and be well.