COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

Approved by: Board of Trustees 
Date approved by Board: July 6, 2021 
Effective date: July 15, 2021 
Responsible Official: General Counsel & Chief Risk Management Officer
Responsible University Offices: Provost’s Office; Human Resources Department; Division of Student Affairs 
Revision History: None 
Related legislation and University policies: None 
Review Period: 6 Months 
Relates to: Faculty, Staff, Students, Designated Third-Parties


Vaccination against viruses and other diseases improves the health and wellness of faculty, staff, students, and other members of the CWRU community; reduces absences of faculty, staff, and students; decreases healthcare expenses; reduces doctor visits and improves morale. The University is committed to providing faculty, staff, students, and other members of the CWRU community with an environment as free as possible from recognized and preventable/mitigable hazards, including COVID-19 and other viruses and infections. 

This policy requires vaccination against COVID-19 among University faculty, staff, and students with an on-campus presence. The goal is to protect – to the greatest extent possible – our CWRU campus community, including University faculty, staff, students, and visitors to CWRU’s campus, their families, and the surrounding greater Cleveland community from COVID-19 infection as we all do our part to survive this worldwide pandemic.

This policy is intended to comply with all federal, state, and local laws and is based upon guidance provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Ohio Department of Health, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, and public health and licensing authorities as applicable. However, this policy does not assume any legal duty not mandated by law.


This policy requires mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all faculty, staff, and students on CWRU’s campus, and it also may apply to certain designated contractors, vendors, and other visitors to CWRU’s campus with regular access and presence in the University’s facilities (such individuals will be notified of their designation and resulting policy application).


By July 23, 2021, all faculty, staff, and students with an on–campus presence must: (a) establish that they are fully vaccinated by uploading the vaccination card to the CWRU secured health record system, i.e., it has been two weeks since they have received their final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine; or (b) obtain an approved exemption from the University as a medical or religious accommodation. The approved COVID-19 vaccines currently include Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, and AstraZeneca; please note that other WHO COVID-19 vaccines, while not expressly approved under this policy, may still allow for certain exemptions to be granted to such person in accordance with CWRU’s accommodation process. Faculty, staff, and students do not need to disclose, nor should they disclose, genetic information or other medical information when verifying vaccination status. The process for seeking an accommodation is explained below. As of July 23, 2021, faculty, staff, and students who do not fulfill one of these two requirements will not be permitted to come to campus. If a faculty, staff, or student has received their first dose but not their final dose plus the two-week period by July 23, such individual may be entitled to physically come to campus during that time period when they are completing their vaccination (e.g., the second dose plus two weeks), subject to additional safety measures.  In addition, if a faculty, staff, or student has not had reasonable access to an approved vaccination prior to July 23, such individual may be entitled to physically come to campus if they are in the process of obtaining an approved vaccination once reasonably available, subject to additional safety measures. The University will endeavor to assist faculty, staff, and students by providing on-site access to immunizations or identifying sites where individuals may receive the vaccinations. Faculty, staff and students who have a vaccination scheduled through University Health & Counseling Services will be permitted to come to campus to receive that dose. For those faculty, staff, and students who will not be returning to campus until a date after July 23, 2021, e.g., August 23, 2021, such individuals must comply with the above before their physical return to campus.   

Safety protocols will be required or recommended, as appropriate, for those exempted from the vaccination requirement as part of a medical or religious accommodation (see below). These additional protocols may result in additional face covering and safety requirements, testing requirements, transfer to a different position or location, or may result in a reduced work level or leave of absence until vaccination is possible.

Medical and Religious Exemption Requirements

To assist any faculty, staff, or student who is disabled, who is pregnant, who is a nursing mother, who has a qualifying medical condition that contraindicates the vaccination, or who objects to being vaccinated on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs and practices, the University will engage in an interactive process to determine if a reasonable accommodation can be provided without imposing an undue hardship on the University or creating a direct threat to the health or safety of the employee or others in the workplace. 

To request an accommodation for one of the above reasons, an individual must complete the appropriate medical or religious accommodation requests forms (available from Disability Resources or the Office of Equity). Once the University receives the accommodation request form, it will engage in an interactive process to identify potential accommodations on a case-by-case basis. Individuals must cooperate and participate in this interactive process honestly and in good faith, and individuals may be asked to provide additional information in support of the accommodation request. Even with an individual’s cooperation and participation in the process, the request may be denied due the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting undue hardship and/or direct threat posed by the lack of vaccination, depending on the circumstances.


As stated in its other policies, the University does not discriminate against its faculty, staff, students, or applicants with regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression), national origin, age, disability and genetic information (including family medical history), or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law. The University also accommodates disabilities and sincerely held religious beliefs to the extent required by law and prohibits retaliation for any conduct protected by applicable law. Although an accommodation request may be denied if it poses an undue burden on the University and/or presents a direct threat to the health and safety of others, the University will not retaliate against any employee or student merely for requesting an accommodation.

If you believe that you have been treated in a manner not in accordance with this policy, please notify the Office of Human Resources or the Office of Equity immediately.


The University will keep all individuals’ vaccination status and underlying medical condition(s) confidential, in accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and any other applicable law or regulation.