Shorelight helps international students attend top universities in the U.S.
Shorelight helps international students attend top universities in the U.S.

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Find Out if You Can Get the Vaccine for Coronavirus at Your US University

COVID-19
campus life
By Selene Angier
Last updated on April 1, 2021

What types of policies do US universities have in place for the coronavirus vaccine? Read on to see how Shorelight universities are preparing – and how international students can plan.

A Black female international student wearing a face mask sits in an examining room and gets the coronavirus vaccine in her upper arm from a doctor

With each day, we learn more about the coronavirus: causes of transmission, the best safety precautions, how to get tested, and more. We know a lot more about COVID-19 than we did one year ago. But the biggest question on students’ minds is: When can I get the vaccine for coronavirus and resume life on campus?

If you have been keeping up with coronavirus vaccine news, you probably know that three vaccines — by pharmaceutical companies Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer — have been approved in the US so far, and several more are soon expected in the US and around the globe.

Getting students safely back on campus to live and thrive is a top priority for universities. 

With COVID vaccine rollout still in the early phases, many universities have not issued confirmed policies and may not be available until late March or April, when the vaccine is expected to be made available to the general public. This is known as “Phase 2” in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, or Phase 3–4 in most states.

Universities take your health and safety very seriously, and that means aiming to have as much of the campus population vaccinated as possible. Before your arrival date, or if you are already on campus, check with your Shorelight advisor or university staff to learn your school’s vaccination policies. 

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get your vaccine in your home country, or you may have access if you are on campus now, or when you get to campus. Before you go, here is what you need to know about your campus and COVID vaccines. 

How Should I Prepare for Life on Campus?

Even after you receive the vaccine, you will be expected to follow your university’s safety protocols. This may mean — especially for the remainder of 2021 — wearing a mask, getting tested, and practicing social distancing. Some students may be getting the vaccine now, and others will not get it until spring or summer, which means universities will be maintaining safety guidelines to minimize transmission.  

What Is My School’s Vaccine Plan and Availability? 

While the CDC makes recommendations, the department of public health (DPH) in each state in the USA creates their own vaccine rollout plan and guidelines. 

For example, if you go to school at Adelphi University in New York, but your friend goes to the University of South Carolina, you may follow different protocols or have access to the vaccine at different times. Generally, students aged 18 to 24 with no underlying health conditions should expect to be eligible for the vaccine April through June. 

The CDC’s Phase guidelines are:

  • Phase 1A: Health care workers and long-term care residents

  • Phase 1B: Frontline essential workers and people aged 75+

  • Phase 1C: People aged 65+, people aged 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers

  • Phase 2: General population

It’s very important to note that many states have renumbered the phases and regrouped populations according to case data and other prioritized needs in their communities. You will find most states have relabeled as Phases 1, 2, and 3 (with sub a, b, and c) or even 1, 2, 3, and 4. 

For your convenience, here are links to each Shorelight partner university’s COVID information hub and each state’s public health departments. Guidelines and proposed dates can change — so be sure to check back before your expected phase. 

Adelphi University

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

American Collegiate DC

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

American Collegiate Los Angeles

State Public Health Site

American University

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

Auburn University

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

Auburn University at Montgomery

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

Cleveland State University

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

Florida International University

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

Louisiana State University

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

University of Central Florida

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

University of Dayton

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

University of Illinois Chicago

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

University of Kansas

University COVID News

University of Massachusetts Amherst

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

University of Massachusetts Boston

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

University of Mississippi

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

University of the Pacific

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

University of South Carolina

University COVID News

University of Utah

University COVID News

State Public Health Site

When Will I Be Eligible for the Vaccine and Can I Get Vaccinated on Campus? 

Healthy college students with no other qualifying event will generally be eligible in the last phase, so likely in late spring/early summer. College students with patient-facing internships or work studies (e.g., a nursing student in a hospital practicum) are part of Phase 1, and have likely already received their vaccine. Students with underlying health conditions are prioritized according to their state’s rollout plan, which for most states is Phase 1C, or beginning of Phase 2. (It’s confusing, we know! If you have questions, Shorelight advisors can help you make sense of the vaccination plans both for your school and state.)

Shorelight universities have indicated that the vaccine will be made available to students, either directly on campus or through state/local health services. (Due to the refrigeration requirements of the vaccines, certain college campuses would be unable to host a vaccination site, so they work with a local DPH site to coordinate on behalf of students, staff, and faculty.) Your campus team will be able to help you determine when and where you can get the vaccine. 

And good news! Many universities have already started coordination of vaccines for at-risk students, eligible aged faculty, and essential personnel. For instance:

  • Auburn University is in Phase 1C, which includes students interning or working in a clinical setting. Alabama’s Phase 2 — all remaining students, faculty, and staff not yet vaccinated — is just around the corner.

  • Florida International University is actively vaccinating eligible Phase 1 recipients (patient-facing staff and FIU campus community aged 65+), with plans to expand to the student population soon.

  • Ole Miss students aged 18 to 64 years old who have an underlying medical condition are currently eligible to receive the vaccine through the Mississippi State Health Department.

  • UOP is piloting a drive-through vaccination clinic and offers appointments according to California’s phased rollout.

  • University of Dayton Arena is an official vaccination site, and still in early phases (high-risk populations) of distribution.

Get in touch with your Shorelight advisor or go to your school’s COVID hub to get updates. 

In Which Cases Are College Students Being Offered Preferential Treatment for Vaccines? 

While college students are not being offered preferential treatment specifically, students with underlying health conditions are prioritized according to their state’s rollout plan, which means they would be eligible to receive the vaccine in CDC Phase 1C. 

Healthy students without a high-risk medical condition or qualifying event are generally considered Phase 2, which would mean April at the earliest. 

Your internship or work study program may qualify you for an earlier phase, especially clinical health care workers, typically Phase 1A in most states. Some examples are:

  • Students working in patient-facing or health care settings

  • Student teachers working in K-12, daycare, trade school, or higher education settings

  • Students working or interning in essential roles (varies by state; mental health facilities, grocery stores, utilities, transportation, government operations, and manufacturing, for example)

What Are the Steps for Getting My Vaccine?

Consult your school’s COVID hub to find out how to get your vaccine on campus or in the community. At community health care partners, the steps are generally:

  1. Determine your eligibility — Log on to your campus or state Department of Public Health portal to see which phase you are eligible for. If you are an at-risk adult 18 to 64 year old, you may be eligible now or soon. (This is Phase 1C or Phase 2 for most states.) If you are a healthy young adult student, with no underlying conditions and no other eligibility criteria, then you are likely a Phase 3/general population candidate (so hold tight!).

  2. Schedule an appointment — Vaccines are available directly on some campuses, or will be made available through local health clinics, pharmacy chains such as CVS or Walgreens, hospitals, or local health department sites. Visit your university’s COVID hub or the state’s department of public health site to see what options are available to you.

  3. Get your vaccine and secure your documentation card — Show up to your appointment on time, follow stated safety precautions, monitor any side effects, and keep your vaccination card in a safe place (you may need to share a copy with your university).

  4. Schedule your second appointment — Of the three leading vaccines currently being administered in the US, Pfizer and Moderna require two shots — an initial shot and a booster shot three to four weeks later. At your first appointment, the health care administrator will book you for your second shot, or tell you how to set up your next appointment. Johnson & Johnson’s is a one-shot vaccination.

The Importance of Getting Vaccinated

Universities encourage students and campus staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19, both for personal and community safety. We all want to put this pandemic behind us and the best path to that is being vaccinated. 

The current Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have a 94 to 95% efficacy rate and are demonstrated to be safe at preventing or minimizing the transmission of the coronavirus. With upwards of 80% of the population expected to receive the vaccine, we can achieve “herd immunity.” Johnson & Johnson has been shown to have a 72% efficacy rate.

Voluntary and compliant vaccination means we can keep others safe and it means peace of mind to enjoy dance parties with friends, pick-up games on the quad, study groups in person, and — oh yes! — hugs. 

See how Shorelight can help you transition to studying in the US