COVID-19 Community Update: Immunization required for Emory students in fall

By Amir St. Clair, associate vice president and executive director of COVID-19 response and recovery | April 22, 2021

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Emory Forward

On April 19, President Gregory L. Fenves announced that Emory University will require all students to be immunized for COVID-19 for fall 2021, with exemptions based on medical conditions or strong personal objections. COVID-19 vaccination for faculty and staff will not be required at this time but is strongly encouraged. 

Adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of already required vaccines for students came after extensive consultation with public health experts, vaccine scientists, student health leaders and others. Please refer to the Emory Forward vaccine webpage and review the Fall 2021 COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement FAQs for further information on this new policy.

If you have not received your vaccination yet, please do so as soon as possible. Emory stands ready to provide that service and encourages you to schedule your vaccination online. Thank you for taking this important step — for prioritizing not just your own health but the safety and well-being of all of us by getting vaccinated. 

At present, more than 15,000 Emory University members have received at least one vaccination dose through Emory Healthcare, which includes more than 5,000 students — many of whom became fully vaccinated this past Saturday, April 17, at our Northlake Mall Clinic. And we know many in our community have received their vaccine elsewhere. Let’s keep adding to those encouraging numbers.

As this semester winds down following Emory’s recent move to a “yellow” operating status on April 5, we can see promising signs of our progress, including our student-athletes competing on campus, expanded gathering sizes and activities, and our Farmers Market back in operation.

Excitement is building for Commencement weekend, May 14-16, and the chance to honor our impressive graduates. Critical to our planning efforts are the extensive safety and infection-prevention measures being taken at the Georgia World Congress Center, the site of Commencement activities, so that everyone participating can enjoy the celebration and accomplishments in a safe manner. 

As President Fenves said of our speaker, Anthony Fauci, “I cannot think of a more inspiring person than Dr. Fauci to address the Class of 2021, whose Emory experience has been so dramatically shaped by the pandemic, and whose resilience and determination have inspired us again and again.”

Event spaces and rooms will be thoroughly disinfected before and between all ceremonies. Timing of the various ceremonies has been deliberately staggered to minimize density and overlapping gatherings, as well as to allow for expanded cleaning. Throughout the three days, high-performance air filtration will take place. Face coverings will be required for all attendees along with one-way walkways, 12-foot aisles and six feet of spacing between individuals.

After sending our graduates on their way with our best wishes, our thoughts will turn to fall. Flexibility remains essential, but among the anticipated features of the return to campus are in-person instruction with regular class sizes, standard occupancy in the residence halls, normal lab and research operations, and expanded student life activity. Face coverings and testing will continue to be essential tools in maintaining a safe and healthy campus. 

We are advancing in so many positive ways. What undergirds all of this is the extraordinary diligence that the community has shown with regard to hand washing, physical distancing and face coverings. 

Please stay the course with all the precautions that you have been exercising. They are key to safely reclaiming more and more of the elements that make communal life on campus such a pleasure.