On May 17, 2021, the University of Hawaiʻi announced that beginning in the fall 2021 semester, the COVID-19 vaccination would be part of the health clearance requirements for students. To be on any UH campus, students must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The following FAQs will be updated as implementation plans are finalized.

Who is required to get vaccinated?

Students who will be physically attending courses (vs. online), living in on-campus housing, or participating in activities (including athletic events) on any UH campus starting in the fall 2021 semester must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. UH’s health clearance requirements for students currently include a TB clearance and immunizations for Measles Mumps, Rubella (MMR) and Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis and Varicella. The Meningococcal Conjugate vaccination is also required for first-year students living in on-campus housing.

Will there be exceptions?

Yes. There are medical and religious exemptions available for health clearance requirements. More detailed information will be made available in the coming months.

How can I request an exemption?

Persons claiming a medical exemption to immunization requirements must have their physician sign the Medical Exemption Form. Persons claiming religious exemption to immunization requirements must sign a Religious Exemption Waiver Form. A new form will be available soon. Forms must be turned into the appropriate campus office by (deadline). More detailed information on how the exemptions will be implemented will be made available in the coming months.

When does the vaccine requirement begin?

The COVID-19 vaccination requirement will only take effect when at least one of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently under emergency use authorization has been fully licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is anticipated for this summer.

People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen). This guidance can also be applied to COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (e.g., AstraZeneca/Oxford or Sinopharm).

Will employees be required to get vaccinated?

UH intends to start formal discussions with the three unions that represent UH employees about possibly requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for employees as well. The university has strongly encouraged all employees to get vaccinated.

What if the vaccine I received has not been fully licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration?

All vaccines authorized under Emergency Use Authorization are highly effective. The FDA and CDC continue to routinely monitor these. Proof of full vaccination with the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson and Johnson vaccine, or other vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (i.e., Astra-Zeneca/Oxford or Sinopharm) will meet this requirement.

Why is UH requiring the COVID-19 vaccine?

A fully vaccinated community enables the best opportunity for a healthy return to high-quality face-to-face teaching, learning and research. The requirement may also allow us to reduce or remove some COVID-19 restrictions, such as reducing the physical distancing requirements or face covering requirements, which would be a significant step toward a full reopening of campuses.

Why is UH making the announcement before all of the details have been finalized?

To provide assurance to students and their families that the return to fall semester will be made as safe as possible and to provide students the opportunity to be fully vaccinated well before the start of the fall semester.

Is UH the only university requiring COVID-19 vaccinations?

Hundreds of universities and colleges are requiring students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and more are expected to mandate the requirement leading up to the fall semester. The American College Health Association recommends COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all on-campus college and university students for fall semester 2021.

What happens to students who refuse to get vaccinated?

Unvaccinated UH students will still be welcome and may enroll in online courses. Online learners will also be able to engage with student services online, as they have over the past year, and they will be able to participate in student activities virtually.

How will UH confirm that students or employees were vaccinated?

More detailed information will be made available in the coming months as plans are finalized.

Will students still be required to wear face coverings while on campus?

Face covering requirements will adhere to CDC and HDOH guidelines and requirements, which will be influenced by the state of the pandemic and scientific understanding of the virus and disease. Requiring all students on campus to be vaccinated will directly support our return to pre-pandemic conditions.

Will students and employees be required to practice 6-foot social distancing while on campus?

Physical distancing requirements will adhere to CDC and HDOH guidelines and requirements, which will be influenced by the state of the pandemic and scientific understanding of the virus and disease. Requiring all students on campus to be vaccinated will directly support our return to pre-pandemic conditions.

Will students and employees be required to use the Lumisight UH daily health check app?

Daily health checks are still a best practice in keeping individuals and communities safe. The expectation is that the daily Lumisight UH health check app will still be required in fall 2021 for anyone coming to a UH campus. It may be updated as the situation changes.

How will UH screen visitors to campus to make sure they are vaccinated?

More detailed information will be made available as plans are finalized.

Will UH provide access to COVID-19 vaccines on campus?

There will be vaccination opportunities over the summer and at the beginning of fall for members of the UH community who arrive from locations where they may not have been able to be vaccinated.

What if my second shot is scheduled for after classes start?

Students are required to be fully vaccinated before being allowed on campus. Please coordinate accommodations with your instructors and academic advisors until you are cleared to come to campus.

How will UH screen spectators for sporting and other campus events such as concerts and theatrical performances?

All government and university restrictions and guidance regarding indoor and outdoor public events will be strictly followed.

Will students who receive an exemption for medical or religious reasons be allowed to live in student housing?

More detailed information will be made available in the coming months as plans are finalized.

Will students be asked of proof of vaccination while on campus by faculty, staff, etc.?

More detailed information will be made available as plans are finalized.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine requirement be permanent?

The requirement will be revisited annually based on pandemic conditions and medical guidance.

What if my classes are all online? Do I still need to be vaccinated?

No, but you will not be allowed on campus unless you are fully vaccinated.

If I decide not to get the vaccine, will there be an online option for every course offered?

No, not all courses will be available online. Please work with your academic advisor and consider getting vaccinated.

I had COVID-19, do I still need to be vaccinated?

Yes. Vaccination provides greater protection against infection than simply recovering from COVID-19 and is safe even for those who previously contracted the disease.

Where can I get vaccinated?

Find a vaccination location near you.

Where can I ask other questions?

You can email covid19@hawaii.edu.

Last modified: June 8, 2021