In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 booster guidelines, replacing monovalent vaccines—effective against only one strain of the virus—with the new bivalent vaccines, which are effective against two major strains of the virus.

Accordingly, the University updated its protocols, requiring faculty, students, staff, and guests to be fully up-to-date as defined by the CDC by Tuesday, November 1, 2022. Visitors must follow the same protocol. More information is available on the COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement webpage. This message was shared with all students, faculty, staff, and parents on September 27. The University had communicated the likelihood of this update in protocol to the University community and parents since April 2022 (see the communications history below).

Individuals may still request medical or personal religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate: students should contact University Health Services; faculty and staff should email Human Resources at [email protected].

COVID-19 remains a public health threat. To the extent that the pandemic’s lethality has been blunted, it is because of widespread vaccination for COVID-19. People are still getting sick, but the percentage of those who require hospitalization or who die is much lower—this, by itself, is reason enough to require everyone on campus to be vaccinated and boosted.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 still has the capacity to shut down our campuses. While being up-to-date on vaccinations is important for everyone, it is critical for people living in group settings such as University housing. The Fordham community is composed of people of all ages, and there are many faculty and staff (and some students) who are vulnerable because of their age and other factors.

Fordham already requires proof of immunizations for measles, mumps, rubella, and meningitis—and has done so for decades. Like those diseases, COVID-19 is a public health issue, and the relevant authority is the CDC. It recommends everyone stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, including all primary series doses and boosters for their age group.

We follow CDC guidelines because it has both access to the scientific literature and the expertise to interpret the data and make recommendations based upon it. The CDC bases its guidelines on the work of many researchers, virologists, and epidemiologists—a depth of experience and expertise beyond what can be expected from individual medical practitioners.

Vaccine manufacturers roll out new flu vaccines every year without clinical trials: likewise, the new COVID-19 vaccines, which protect against variants, is based upon established vaccines. It is rare in the history of vaccines to have so few people suffer side effects. The CDC’s vaccine safety page addresses the concerns of those who are hesitant to receive vaccines/boosters under several headings:

  • Hundreds of Millions of People Have Safely Received a COVID-19 Vaccine
  • Adverse Events (Serious Safety Problems) Are Rare
  • The Benefits of Vaccination Outweigh the Risks

All of which can be found here:

As an institution that practices care for the whole person, we have to follow the lead of public health authorities.

Communications History

Prior to September Fordham students, faculty, staff, and parents received the following messages via email (which were also posted to the website and social media):

  • July 27, 2022: As of September 1, students, faculty, and staff are required to be fully up-to-date, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • May 6, 2022, April 28, 2022, April 20, 2022, April 13, 2022, and April 1, 2022: Fordham Vaccine Mandate: The University will continue to require all on-campus students, faculty, and staff to be fully up-to-date† on vaccinations for the 2022-2023 academic year. It may be necessary to require a second booster shot for eligible individuals beginning in September 2022. †“Up-to-date” means the individual has received a full series of COVID-19 vaccines, and a booster shot, if eligible.

New students and their parents received email regarding the vaccine requirement on June 1, 2022: “Fordham University requires all students who are taking in-person classes, living in University housing, or entering the campus for any reason to be up to date with their COVID-19 Vaccines, which currently includes one booster dose.” and on the linked page: “It may be necessary to require a second booster shot for eligible individuals for the 2022-2023 academic year.” New students and their parents received similar messages on July 29, August 23, and August 29.