This information relates to COVID-19 vaccine administration for students and employees of Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU students and employees who are eligible for vaccination under Virginia Department of Health guidelines may also receive vaccination through their primary health care provider or local health district. COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary and not a condition of enrollment or employment. We will update this page as information changes or more details become available.
Q: What is the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines?
A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health and VCU Health have developed frequently asked questions related to the safety and efficacy regarding the types of vaccines available.
For a quick reference of the three vaccines, download this guide from VCU Health.
Q: When can I get the vaccine?
A: The Virginia Department of Health determines vaccine eligibility and works with local health districts on the equitable distribution of vaccines. The process and timeline remain fluid, contingent on vaccine supply and adequate numbers of vaccine administrators. At this time, VCU recommends you receive the vaccine wherever you can, whether that be VCU or your local state or health district. In Virginia, residents can register with the Commonwealth of Virginia vaccine pre-registration system at vaccinate.virginia.gov and will be notified when it is their turn to receive the vaccine. You will be asked a series of questions during the registration process that will determine your eligibility phase. If you register with VDH and are contacted to make an appointment for vaccination, you are encouraged to do so.
To understand your eligibility, visit the VDH website and see details below. The Richmond-Henrico Health District is currently distributing vaccines for those in phases 1a through 1c. Faculty and staff who are not eligible as part of phase 1a or 1b will be eligible as part of phase 1c. VCU students, unless otherwise eligible as part of phases 1a through 1c, will be eligible when the vaccine becomes widely available for the general population.
VCU clinical students who qualify under phase 1a are identified through the appropriate dean’s office and will be contacted by email when appointments can be made. VCU faculty and staff who qualify under phase 1a have been identified by their supervisors and will be contacted by email with further instruction regarding when they can make an appointment to get their vaccination through Employee Health.
At this time, we anticipate on-campus vaccination clinics for VCU community members who meet the VDH eligibility requirements for phase 1b. VDH makes the final determination of who is considered an essential employee under phase 1b. This means that employees considered designated or essential by VCU may not be considered essential frontline workers by VDH, and will therefore be eligible as part of phase 1c. Once we have VDH approval and available vaccine, VCU will reach out to 1b eligible employees and contracted staff to sign up for on-campus vaccine clinics. If you believe you are eligible in phase 1b, you are also still encouraged to register with your state or local health district and receive a vaccine wherever it is available.
Some VCU students and employees may be eligible in phase 1b due to an underlying medical condition. Please note, VCU is unable to collect or verify personal health information. If you believe you are eligible as part of phase 1b due to an underlying medical condition, your best course of action right now is to contact your health care provider and register with your state or local health district (see options below).
Most VCU faculty and staff, unless otherwise eligible as part of phases 1a through 1b, will be eligible in phase 1c. As soon as supply allows, VCU will roll out vaccines based on priority guidelines from VDH, with designated and on-campus employees receiving vaccines first. VCU Health leaders are currently planning vaccination events with university leaders and VCU Vaccine Corps volunteers.
Most students, unless otherwise eligible as part of phases 1a through 1c, will be eligible when the vaccine becomes widely available for the general population. Once VDH opens this future phase for vaccination, VCU expects to offer vaccines to students as soon as vaccine supply is available.
Q: If VCU considers me an essential employee and my name was included as part of an earlier effort to collect names of 1b essential workers at the university, am I eligible in phase 1b?
A: The Virginia Department of Health continues to adjust vaccination priorities based on criteria that include job tasks, age, underlying health status and members of vulnerable or underserved communities. Faculty and staff of institutes of higher education are generally considered to be in phase 1c unless otherwise prioritized in phase 1b. To be eligible in phase 1b, you must be considered a frontline essential worker according to the Virginia Department of Health. VCU and VCU Health are in close contact with VDH regarding vaccine priorities and needs. If you are considered essential, or "designated," by VCU, you still may not be eligible to receive a vaccine as part of phase 1b. VDH prioritizes vaccine to support an equitable distribution of vaccine and the health of the most vulnerable populations of people. To learn more about prioritized categories in phase 1b, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/richmond-city/phase-1b-expansion/.
Faculty and staff meeting the VDH definition for 1b will be contacted directly confirming their eligibility; if you do not receive direct communication confirming your 1b status, then you are included in vaccine phase 1c.
Q: Which vaccine will I receive?
A: The type of vaccine you receive through on-campus clinics will depend on availability. There are currently three types of vaccines available, all of which are safe and highly effective at reducing your risk of death or severe disease due to COVID-19, according to science and public health experts who urge the public to take whatever shot they can get. The following websites provide more information about the different vaccines:
Q: When vaccine supply catches up with demand, will VCU distribute vaccines to employees and students?
A: VCU expects to host on-campus vaccination clinics for eligible VCU community members provided there is a supply of vaccines. To participate, you must be considered eligible according to VDH eligibility guidelines. Provided you are eligible and there is supply, VCU will invite you via email to schedule an appointment. The exact timing of vaccine availability and clinics will be communicated as we know more details about available supply.
At this time, VCU recommends you receive the vaccine wherever you can, whether that be VCU or your local state or health district. In Virginia, residents can register with the Commonwealth of Virginia vaccine pre-registration system at vaccinate.virginia.gov and will be notified when it is their turn to receive the vaccine. You will be asked a series of questions during the registration process that will determine your eligibility phase. If you register with VDH and are contacted to make an appointment for vaccination, you are encouraged to do so.
Q: Is the vaccine required to work or attend in-person classes?
A: At this time, the COVID-19 vaccine is optional. It is not a condition of enrollment or employment with the university. There are no legal penalties for refusing it, but we urge you to get it once you are eligible. Once enough people are vaccinated against COVID-19 and the positive effect is reflected in the COVID-19 data that public health authorities are monitoring, we can begin resuming more of the everyday activities we enjoyed before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: If I get vaccinated, do I have to report my vaccination status to VCU?
A: Vaccination and reporting your vaccination to VCU is voluntary and not a condition of enrollment or employment. In addition to guidance from public health experts, VCU relies on this timely information to make decisions that impact university operations and plan future vaccination events. Vaccinated VCU community members may also be exempt from surveillance testing and extended quarantine.
- For faculty and staff: If you received your COVID-19 vaccination, and you would like to report it to VCU, you can do so by filling out the following form.
- Select the second option: I have already received a vaccine from VCU or another source and will submit my vaccine record to the university for verification.
- You will then be prompted to submit a photo or scan of your documentation.
- For students: If you received your COVID-19 vaccination, and you would like to report it to VCU, you can do so through VCU Student Health Services. For information about how to submit immunization records to VCU Student Health Services, vist https://health.students.vcu.edu/immunizations/submitting-immunization-records/.
If you are in the process of being vaccinated (if you have an appointment or are awaiting a second dose) and wish to report your vaccination at a later date, a link to this reporting form will remain available through your daily health check or myVCU portal.
Q: If I get vaccinated, do I still have to perform daily health checks or participate in asymptomatic surveillance testing?
A: Currently yes. Even after receiving your vaccination, you should continue to follow the health and safety protocols, including daily health checks and participating, if selected, in the asymptomatic surveillance testing. If you are contacted by firstname.lastname@example.org to participate in surveillance testing, you are required to schedule your appointment and complete the test. You should also continue to practice safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, staying at least six feet away from others and avoiding crowded spaces.
Q: Does receiving the vaccine automatically clear me for Entry Pass?
A: Currently, you will need to continue to present your Entry Pass.
Q: What if my reaction to the vaccine lasts longer than 48 hours?
A: Research shows that reactions to the vaccine typically last no more than 48 hours. If you experience any reaction due to the COVID-19 vaccination, please follow our infection prevention guidelines and do not come to work. If the above side effects don’t get better on their own, employees should contact their health provider, and contact 804-MYCOVID to connect with Employee Health regarding guidance about returning to work or quarantining. Students should contact Student Health Services.
VCU employees will be eligible for Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL). Please coordinate with your manager and HR professional.
Q: Do we still need to practice COVID-19 prevention efforts after receiving the vaccine? And follow the university’s health and safety protocols?
A: The CDC reports that recent studies have shown that the vaccine prevents you from getting COVID-19 symptoms and severe disease. It is still not known to what extent the vaccines prevent you from contracting and spreading the virus and so it will be important to maintain social distance and wear masks even once you are vaccinated. You will still be required to complete your daily health check, and participate in the mandatory surveillance testing program should you be selected. Also, there will be a period of time in which people will still need to practice social distancing and wear face masks, even once some have had a vaccine. Nationwide and global distribution will take months, maybe years. Achieving herd immunity – the percentage of a population that needs to be vaccinated in order to protect a community from the disease – means getting 70 to 90 percent of people vaccinated.