Vaccine

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.

Have a question about the COVID-19 vaccines that isn’t answered below? Check out the frequently asked questions developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health and VCU Health.

Q: When can I get the vaccine?

In January, the university and VCU Health System began the COVID-19 vaccination rollout for VCU employees that can be identified as part of Virginia Department of Health (VDH) groups 1a or 1b. VCU employees who provide health care or support the health system (eligible as part of 1a) as well as VCU employees age 65 and older (eligible as part of 1b) were notified and offered vaccination appointments. 

At this time, the demand for vaccine nationally continues to exceed supply. To respond and support equitable distribution, the Commonwealth of Virginia created a new vaccine distribution system, managed directly by VDH and local health departments. VCU recommends you register with the Commonwealth of Virginia vaccine pre-registration system at vaccinate.virginia.gov to receive your vaccine through your local district. The state system will notify you when it is your turn to receive the vaccine.

All remaining faculty and staff who are not eligible as part of groups 1a or 1b will be eligible as part of group 1c. VCU students, unless otherwise eligible as part of groups 1a through 1c, will be eligible when the vaccine becomes widely available for the general population.

The vaccination process and timeline are based on CDC and VDH guidelines. The process and timeline remain fluid, contingent on vaccine supply and adequate numbers of vaccine administrators.

Q: When vaccine supply catches up with demand, will VCU distribute vaccines to employees and students?

A: Availability of vaccine will continue to change, especially as more vaccine manufacturers are approved for use and supply increases. VCU Health hopes to be able to administer more vaccines in the future. If VCU identifies you as part of an eligible group, and vaccines are available, you will be contacted by Employee Health through vaccine@vcu.edu.

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: When will the COVID-19 vaccine be offered to students?

A: The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to students began Jan. 12, 2021, starting with eligible clinical students in VCU programs. “Clinical students” are in the patient care phase of their education or providing care in patient-facing environments. This initial group includes students in patient-facing environments from VCU School of Medicine, VCU School of Nursing, VCU School of Pharmacy, VCU School of Dentistry, VCU College of Health Professions, VCU School of Social Work, and a few students from the departments of psychology, kinesiology and health sciences at VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences. VCU students, unless otherwise eligible as part of groups 1a through 1c, will be eligible when the vaccine becomes widely available for the general population.

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 covidtest@vcu.edu 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.

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