On May 5 Colgate announced that all students and employees will be required to have an up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination. The following are FAQs for employees as they plan their return to the campus.

All employees are required to complete their COVID-19 vaccination series by July 19, which is two weeks before the requirement goes into effect, August 2.

Find your preferred vaccine option for free at a location near you through vaccines.gov.

Complete this online form and upload a legible copy of your proof of vaccine. Employees who may have questions or need assistance with uploading documentation are encouraged to make an appointment with a member of the Human Resources Staff. Proof of vaccination includes a legible copy of your vaccine card or a valid Excelsior Pass.

Proof of vaccination must be submitted by July 19. 

As a new hire, your vaccination will be required to be in progress upon arrival. Masking and testing will be required, as outlined by the University, until you are fully vaccinated (two weeks after receiving the final dose).

Expectations will be clearly communicated to the campus community when or if boosters are available and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The records you share in relation to this policy — as with all medical records — will be stored securely and accessed only by those with a need to know. We remain committed to maintaining the privacy of your medical information.

Employees who are fully vaccinated and are notified they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, are not required to quarantine. If experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you must isolate and should be clinically evaluated and tested, if indicated.

Contact Student Health Services and someone will advise you and assist with making an appointment to complete your vaccine series. You will be expected to follow face covering and physical distancing requirements until you are fully vaccinated (two weeks after receiving the final dose).

At this time, if you have received all recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccine listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization, then you meet the requirement and do not need additional doses of an FDA-authorized vaccine. 

If you have been vaccinated with a vaccine that is not authorized by the FDA or WHO, you will be offered an FDA-authorized vaccine, assuming a minimum of 28 days has passed since your last dose of a different COVID-19 vaccine. You will be expected to follow face covering, physical distancing, and testing requirements until you are fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.

Exemption Information

To request a medical exemption, you must submit a physician’s note stating that you are unable to receive the vaccine. To request a religious exemption, complete the religious exemption form. Documents must be submitted either in person or by email to Human Resources at benefits@colgate.edu by July 6 to allow time for review. You may be contacted if clarification is needed. You will receive a confirmation letter of the decision from Human Resources once your exemption request has been reviewed. 

A sincerely held religious belief and how this belief relates to your decision not to receive the vaccination.

As face covering requirements and physical distancing restrictions are lifted in most settings for the fully vaccinated campus population, they are expected for unvaccinated individuals. This is subject to change based on state and federal guidance. Unvaccinated employees who are exempt from receiving the vaccine will also be required to participate in weekly surveillance testing throughout the semester.

Any failure to report for required testing without prior approval from Human Resources will be considered a violation of the Commitment to Community Health and will result in a one-day suspension, which will progress by one (1) additional day for each failure to report for testing.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days and are unable to receive the vaccination by August 2, you will need to be placed on a medical exemption until the 90 days have passed. You will need to email Human Resources (benefits@colgate.edu) to indicate that you fall in this category. Please include a copy of your isolation order or a note from your medical provider. 

Choosing Not to Meet the Requirement

Employees unable or unwilling to show proof of vaccination or medical or religious exemptions may resign or take a mandatory 12-month personal leave without pay and benefits beginning Aug. 2, 2021. Please inform your supervisor or department chair as soon as possible, but no later than July 19 if you determine that you will be exercising one of these options. Failure to provide an exemption or confirmation of personal leave will be considered to be a voluntary resignation. 

Staff members who would like more details on this option should contact Human Resources for information; faculty members should contact the Dean of the Faculty Office.

The University is offering a one-time Vaccine Opt-Out Package. This option will provide the equivalent of four (4) weeks of base pay. In addition, any vacation balance will be paid out in the final paycheck and these employees will be eligible to apply for unemployment. For those who wish to take this option, the resignation effective date will be July 30, with notification of this decision to be communicated to HR on or before July 19. Employees who elect to take the package are eligible for continuation of health insurance, including dependent coverage, under COBRA at no cost through Sept. 30, 2021.

No. Refusal to get vaccinated for an employee who is not eligible for a medical or religious exemption will not be a valid basis for remote work approval. All employees working remotely will be required to be vaccinated. NOTE: working remotely may constitute a reasonable accommodation under a medical or religious exemption, subject to the required interactive accommodation process.

Yes. Failure to do so will be deemed as a voluntary resignation.

General Vaccine FAQS

No. The mRNA from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines never enter the nucleus of the cell, where our DNA is kept. J&J uses a modified version of a different, harmless virus to deliver important protection-building instructions in the form of genetic material that does not integrate into a person’s DNA. At the end of either process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection from COVID-19 if the real virus enters our bodies. The takeaway: Opt for whatever vaccine is available to you. They’re all safe, effective, and vetted.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control

Effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection vary unpredictably from minor to deadly — even in young people. Our Commitment to Community Health helps to keep spread to a minimum, but SARS-CoV-2 immunity is the key to returning to normal in the fall. “No virus has ever eliminated itself by inducing natural immunity in a large percentage of the population. Only herd immunity induced by vaccination can eliminate viruses, as has now been shown for smallpox and two of the three different types of poliovirus.”
SOURCE: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

No. Because these vaccines do not use live strains of the virus, you will not show as positive on tests for current infection. (The CDC notes that your new immune response might result in a positive on some antibody tests, showing that you have “some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.”)