Vaccine Requirement for Fall 2020

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Vaccine Requirement for Students and Employees

Last week, the UT Board of Trustees approved an emergency resolution authorizing the University of Tennessee System to require CDC or Department of Health recommended vaccines for all faculty, staff, and students that are deemed to aid in preventing, controlling, or monitoring the spread of COVID-19This includes the flu immunization, and could include a COVID vaccine, if one is developed and recommended by the CDC and Tennessee Department of Health.

The vaccination requirements are to protect the health and safety of the university community and are based on the advice of public health experts to help decrease the chances of a flu outbreak masking a COVID-19 outbreak. As the CDC has noted, the flu vaccine “will be more important than ever” in the 2020-21 flu season because of the potential for the flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 to be spreading at the same time. The COVID immunization would only be required if it’s been medically proven to be safe and effective and it is recommended by the CDC or Tennessee Department of Health.

Consistent with state law, the University of Tennessee has required certain vaccinations for incoming students for years, and it is important to know that students and employees can be exempted from these requirements if they have a medical, religious, or other reason.

Many of you have had questions about what this means, so we wanted to answer some of the most common questions:

Who needs a flu shot?
All members of the campus community unless they receive an exemption.

Why are you requiring a flu shot?  
The recommendation was made based on the advice of public health experts who have recommended students, faculty, and staff have the seasonal flu immunizations to help decrease the chances of a flu outbreak masking a COVID-19 outbreak.

When will students, faculty and staff need to have their flu shot? 
The flu vaccine is typically available in early October. We are asking members of the campus community to have the shot before the start of the spring semester in January 2021.

Can exemptions be made?  
Yes. Just as we have exemptions for existing vaccination requirements, exemptions will be made for medical, religious, or other reasons. More information regarding the exemption processes will be communicated closer to the time vaccinations become available.

Will you require a COVID-19 vaccination? 
At this time, we do not anticipate a COVID-19 vaccination for the upcoming academic year. The COVID immunization would only be required if it’s been medically proven to be safe and effective and it is recommended by the CDC or Tennessee Department of Health.

How can I get a flu shot?  
Flu vaccinations may be received at your physician’s office, a local health department or any health care provider. In addition, the campus will set up opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to receive free flu vaccinations on campus once the vaccine is available.

If you have any questions, please contact University Health Services at 901.448.5630.