Vaccine Mandate

"I Got My COVID-19 Vaccine!" with a band-aid heart featuring Auggie Eagle "Augsburg University"

To provide the safest possible conditions for teaching, learning and working, Augsburg University is implementing a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy for students and employees, with documented exemptions and extensions allowed. Augsburg University students, faculty and staff must comply with the COVID-19 Vaccination Policy by August 26, 2021. By this date, you must have:  

  • received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; or
  • been vaccinated with another vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO); or
  • filed a medical or non-medical exemption form with the Dean of Students (for students) or Augsburg Human Resources (for employees); or
  • filed a 31-day deadline extension request with the Dean of Students (for students) or Augsburg Human Resources (for employees) for complying with the COVID-19 Vaccination Policy described above.

Student forms will be posted on this page this week (July 26-31), and an email will be sent to students letting them know when the forms are available. Employees may contact Human Resources for exemption forms.

Unvaccinated individuals, including those who have filed an extension or exemption, are required to adhere to strict campus protocols which may include mandatory masking, quarantine, testing, and other requirements for the safety of the Augsburg community.  Vaccinated individuals may choose to mask in circumstances they deem to be higher risk, even when the university does not require it.

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I’m concerned about how quickly the vaccines were developed and don’t trust their effectiveness and safety.

President Pribbenow getting vaccinated
President Pribbenow getting vaccinated

Studies found that the two initial vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are both about 95% effective and reported no serious or life-threatening side effects. Here are a few reasons why the COVID-19 vaccines could be developed so quickly:

  • The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were created with a method that has been in development for decades specifically to address a new pandemic illness (messenger RNA, or mRNA), so the companies could start the vaccine development process early in the pandemic. 
  • China isolated and shared genetic information about COVID-19 promptly, so scientists could start working on vaccines. 
  • The vaccine developers didn’t skip any testing steps, but conducted some of the steps on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster. 
  • Vaccine projects had plenty of resources, as governments invested in research and/or paid for vaccines in advance. 
  • Social media helped companies find and engage study volunteers, and many were willing to help with COVID-19 vaccine research. 
  • Because COVID-19 is so contagious and widespread, it did not take long to see if the vaccine worked for the study volunteers who were vaccinated. 

(source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Will the COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States contain the live virus, meaning that the vaccine cannot infect you with COVID-19. The vaccines can cause side effects, such as a fever, in some people, but this is a sign that your body is learning to protect against the virus. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build up protection against the virus, so it is possible for someone to become infected with the virus just before or after getting the vaccine and still get sick. (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Will the COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

President Pribbenow with a sticker confirming his vaccination
President Pribbenow after receiving his vaccine

No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.

There are currently two types of COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for use in the United States; messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and viral vector vaccines.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease.

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different, harmless virus (the vector) to deliver important instructions to our cells to start building protection. The instructions are delivered in the form of genetic material. This material does not integrate into a person’s DNA. These instructions tell the cell to produce a harmless piece of the virus—a spike protein that is only found on the surface of the virus. This harmless spike protein triggers our immune system to recognize the virus that causes COVID-19 and to begin producing antibodies and activating other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection.

At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection from COVID-19. That immune response and the antibodies that our bodies make protect us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies. (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

If I’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?

According to the CDC, yes. Experts are still unsure on how long you are protected after recovering from COVID-19. In addition, studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection for people who have recovered from COVID-19. 

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting the vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or have more questions about COVID-19. (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?

Large-scale clinical studies have found that COVID-19 vaccination prevented most people from getting COVID-19. No vaccine prevents illness 100% of the time, so a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus. It’s still important to get vaccinated, though, because the vaccine teaches your body how to recognize and fight the virus, and this helps protect you from getting sick.

Some unvaccinated people with COVID-19 may have only a mild illness, but others get a severe illness, have long-term health effects, or even die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you don’t have an increased risk of developing severe complications. Vaccination is the best protection against severe illness. (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Some people notice pain or swelling where they got the vaccine. You may also get a fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, or a combination of these symptoms. Out of the over 2 million people who reported vaccine side effects to the CDC:

  • 70% reported pain in their arm
  • 33% reported experiencing fatigue
  • 33% reported a headache
  • 11% reported experiencing chills or a fever
  • 10.4% reported joint pain
  • 8.9% reported nausea

Side effects may last about a day or two. These are signs that your immune system is responding and preparing to fight the coronavirus if you catch it. If symptoms persist, you should call your doctor. (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?

Epidemiologist Alicia Quella
Augsburg University Epidemiologist, Alicia Quella, Ph. D, PA-C

Yes. If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you may receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Confusion around this issue arose when a false report surfaced on social media, saying that the spike protein on the coronavirus was the same as another spike protein called syncitin-1 that is involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy. The false report said that getting the COVID-19 vaccine would cause a person’s body to fight this different syncitin-1 spike protein and affect fertility. The two spike proteins are completely different, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect the fertility of people seeking to become pregnant, including through in vitro fertilization methods. During the Pfizer vaccine tests, 23 women volunteers involved in the study became pregnant, and the only one in the trial who suffered a pregnancy loss had not received the actual vaccine, but a placebo. (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines. (source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am breastfeeding?

Based upon available data, it appears safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are nursing a baby. Although the vaccines have not been studied in nursing parents, lactating parents should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines do not contain live virus, so being vaccinated does not pose a risk to the baby. If you are vaccinated for the coronavirus, there is no need to delay or discontinue breastfeeding. (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Does the vaccine contain any controversial substances?

No. The vaccines authorized by the FDA contain mRNA (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) and other normal vaccine ingredients such as fats (which protect the mRNA), salts, as well as a small amount of sugar. These COVID-19 vaccines were not developed using fetal tissue, and they do not contain any material such as implants, microchips, or tracking devices. (source: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

What are we still learning about the vaccines?

  • How well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not have symptoms
  • How long COVID-19 vaccines protect people
  • How many people have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before most people can be considered protected (population immunity)
  • How effective the vaccines are against new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19

(source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

How much does a vaccine cost?

Nothing. The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status. Providers cannot:

  • Charge you for the vaccine
  • Charge you any administration fees, copays, or coinsurance
  • Deny vaccination to anyone who does not have health insurance coverage, is underinsured, or is out of network
  • Charge an office visit or other fee to the recipient if the only service provided is a COVID-19 vaccination
  • Require additional services in order for a person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; however, additional healthcare services can be provided at the same time and billed appropriately.

(source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Will I still have to wear a mask and continue COVID-19 safety precautions if I get the vaccine?

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. The state of Minnesota and the city of Minneapolis have lifted their mask mandates, except in certain settings, such as public transportation. Augsburg University lifted the campus-wide indoor mask requirement on Saturday, June 26. If we experience an outbreak of cases on campus, we may temporarily reinstate the indoor mask policy until case rates subside.

As we transition through the summer, working to get as many people vaccinated as possible, there may still be some situations on campus where masks will be required given the particulars of the situation (e.g., large groups with off-campus participants). In those cases, the mask requirement will be communicated to participants in advance to make sure people come prepared to wear a mask.

Of course, any individual who chooses to continue to wear a mask indoors (or outdoors) on campus may continue to do so. The CDC does recommend that unvaccinated people wear masks, as they remain at risk for contracting COVID-19, including newer, more infectious variants.

When am I eligible to receive the vaccine, and how do I sign up for an appointment?

Currently in Minnesota, anyone 12 years of age or older is eligible to receive the vaccine.  Augsburg’s health care partner, People’s Center Clinic, offers vaccine appointments just down the street from the Minneapolis campus. If a different location would be more convenient for you, use the Minnesota vaccine locator tool to find locations, confirm availability, and book a vaccination appointment.