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Vaccine FAQs

Last updated on January 6, 2022


Vaccination Requirement Update

All students, faculty, and staff are required to be fully vaccinated. Upon the recommendation of public health officials and SCU’s health and safety team, this requirement will be enforced even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only formally approved the Pfizer vaccine, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have not changed from “emergency use” to “full” status.

In addition, COVID-19 booster shots are required as soon as you are eligible (six months after the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two months after the Johnson & Johnson dose). You should get your booster as soon as possible, and you must upload your updated vaccination information into the Cowell Center | My Student Health Portal by March 17, 2022. If you already received a University-approved exemption, this requirement does not apply to you.

New Students Arriving for Winter Quarter or Spring Semester

All new students arriving from inside the U.S. and from countries outside the U.S. must obtain a vaccine and upload proof of vaccination, showing completion of the full series, by February 11, 2022. Students who fail to upload the vaccine verification by this deadline will be withdrawn from the University.

All students must get tested for COVID-19 twice during the first week of the winter quarter/spring semester. Testing should be done once at the beginning of the week, and once at the end of the week (E.g., Monday and Thursday, or Tuesday and Friday). New students who are not yet fully vaccinated upon arrival must also submit a weekly COVID-19 test until the February 11, 2022 deadline. 

All on-campus resident graduate and undergraduate students, as well as students who have received an exemption from the University's vaccination mandate, are required to continue testing weekly during the winter quarter/spring semester.


How can students upload proof of COVID-19 vaccination?

1. Go to SCU Portal
2. Click on Cowell Center | My Student Health Portal
3. Authenticate your login by entering your date of birth
4. Once inside your chart, under the home tab, click on the "Enter My COVID-19 Vaccination Information" tab and upload a copy of your COVID vaccination record and complete the required information. 
5. If you do not see this tab, scroll down to "Medical Clearances" and upload the required information.

If I’ve already registered my vaccination status through Cowell Health Center’s My Student Health Portal or Vax Verify, do I have to do so again?

If you previously shared your COVID-19 vaccination status through Vax Verify, please resubmit proof of vaccination.

In order for your proof of vaccination to be successfully entered into your clinical file at the Cowell Center, we will need additional information than what was originally collected from Vax Verify.  

Please go into your Cowell Center | My Student Health Portal and submit a copy of your COVID-19 vaccination card. When you open your file, you will see an icon that reads "Enter My COVID-19 Vaccination Information." Click on that icon and follow the directions. You will be prompted to upload a copy of your vaccination card and to record the date of each dose along with the name of the vaccine.  

Completing this additional step will help the University to clear your submission more quickly and effectively. Thank you for your patience with this process.

What if I have not completed my vaccination by my registration deadline? 

Students in the process of obtaining the COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., they have received at least one shot) will be allowed to move in/attend classes by providing documentation that proves their mid-vaccination status. These students must complete the vaccination registration process according to their vaccine protocol.

Students with registered medical immunization exemptions or who are mid-vaccination for COVID-19 are required to participate in SCU’s testing program. Students who do not comply with required COVID-19 testing will be prohibited from attending classes and will have their housing contract cancelled.

I am a student in a hybrid online/on-campus graduate program. Do I need to be vaccinated?

All students will need to be fully vaccinated and submit documentation of their COVID-19 vaccination, including students taking a 100% online program and as well as students taking 100% online courses. This requirement does not apply to students who have applied and received approval for a documented disability or COVID-19 medical exemption. Refer to the ‘Vaccination Requirements’ (above) for step-by-step instructions on how to upload your proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

What conditions must be met to qualify for a waiver from the vaccine mandate?

Students may request a medical exemption due to the existence of a medical contraindication to the vaccine, detailed in written documentation from a healthcare provider.

Only students who had already received a medical exemption from COVID vaccination will be considered exempt from the booster requirement. 

Faculty or staff may request a medical exemption due to medical contraindication to the vaccine, detailed in written documentation from a healthcare provider. Faculty or staff may also request a religious exemption by attesting and describing that they have “a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance that is contrary to the practice of immunization.”

Why is there no religious exemption for students?

Due to the ongoing risk posed by COVID-19 and the delta variant in particular, and our goal of a safe return to campus, SCU will only consider requests for medical accommodations from students. This decision has been made in the best interest of our University community and surrounding neighborhoods, including those in our community who are medically vulnerable. Undergraduate students must meet the deadline of applying for a medical exemption by September 1 to be considered.

What happens when a community member does not comply with this vaccine mandate?

Students who do not register a COVID-19 vaccination or a medical immunization exemption prior to their program’s move-in or first day of instruction or are not actively in the middle of the vaccination process will be prohibited from moving in and/or attending classes until they take action on their non-compliance.

For faculty and staff failure to either register one’s vaccination record or complete the exemption process will be treated as a performance issue following the corrective action process as outlined in Policy 310.

Will Santa Clara University offer vaccines on campus?

Santa Clara University is not currently able to provide a full-time location for COVID-19 vaccinations on campus, because of how the state and county have established the vaccine distribution process.

Those who reside in the county can use a variety of websites to locate vaccine sites. Some resources include Santa Clara County’s COVID-19 vaccine site and California's MyTurn vaccine scheduling website.

If I have an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, can I take my courses 100% online? 

If granted an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, SCU cannot guarantee that a student will be able to take their classes 100% online. SCU faculty have been encouraged to continue their innovative approaches to course, assignment, and activity design, to use in-person time to its fullest advantage, to utilize remote or asynchronous instruction to advance the objectives of their courses, and to increase the quality of student experience and community. Students will be able to view the course modality when they register for classes.​

How will students know if their roommate has a medical exemption and has not been vaccinated?

The University cannot proactively share that information due to privacy concerns. Students fall into only two categories: fully vaccinated and able to forgo masks indoors, and not-vaccinated and required to wear a mask and test according to Santa Clara County protocols. We ask all members of our community to be respectful of each other’s privacy.

What vaccines meet the University requirement?

Vaccines meeting the University requirement include those approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and/or any other COVID-19 vaccine which has received emergency use authorization by the World Health Organization (WHO) or another national regulatory organization. As of June 29, 2021, the vaccines that have received approval from the World Health Organization (WHO) include:

  • Pfizer/BioNTech (8/23/21 Received FDA Approval)
  • Astrazeneca-SK Bio
  • AstraZeneca/Oxford
  • Serum Institute of India
  • Johnson & Johnson/Janssen
  • Moderna
  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac
  • Covaxin

Will winter quarter admits need to show proof of vaccination?

Yes. All new students arriving from inside the U.S. and from countries outside the U.S. must obtain a vaccine and upload proof of vaccination, showing completion of the full series, by February 11, 2022. Students who fail to upload the vaccine verification by this deadline will be withdrawn from the University.

Why did SCU change its policy about waiting for FDA full approval of vaccines before mandating that students, faculty or staff be vaccinated? 

In making this decision, we took into account the views of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and others that the currently available COVID vaccines are safe and effective, readily accessible in the U.S., and proven to provide significant protection against the virus as well as the new Delta variant. In the meantime, it is the overwhelming view of local, state, and federal public health agencies that vaccination is the surest way to protect communities from the ongoing threat of COVID-19, especially in large-group congregant settings like residence halls or classrooms. 

What immunizations are currently required for students?

All incoming students (undergraduates, graduates, transfers, and re-admits) are required to comply with the Santa Clara University Immunization Requirements.

How will the University support students from locations where the vaccine is not readily available? Or students who are living in other countries?

SCU will work to accommodate all students coming from outside the United States. The University will assist students to receive a vaccine upon arrival in Santa Clara County.

I have received only one dose of a two-dose vaccine - should I submit this to the SCU Portal?

No. Instead submit proof of your first dose in the Cowell system Mid-vaccination survey.

I have received my first shot of a two-dose vaccine outside the US and need to get my second shot in the US. Where can I get my second shot and how can I get a second shot of the same vaccination, e.g., Pfizer?

We recommend that you use to find a walk-in clinic or book an appointment.

I have received my first shot of a two-dose vaccine outside the US, and my vaccine type is available in the US. Should I get a second shot in the US?  How long do I need to wait?

Yes, get your second shot of the same vaccine type if possible. The minimum interval between doses is 21 days for the Pfizer vaccine, and 28 days for the Moderna vaccine.

If an international student is not able to find two doses of the same vaccine, is it okay to have a mix of different vaccines?

Neither the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the WHO are explicitly recommending mixing vaccines, due to the lack of large clinical trials on combining different vaccines. However, it is generally accepted that mixed vaccination is usually effective, and has minimal additional risks. If your first shot was with a two-dose vaccine and a different vaccine is your only option for the second shot, either before or after you get to the US, SCU will accept the combination as a complete vaccination.

If I received a single dose of a two-dose vaccine outside the US, and my vaccine is NOT available in the US, can I get a second shot of a different vaccine here?  

 Yes, this is generally acceptable. The minimum interval between doses is 28 days.

If yes, should I get one or two doses of the new vaccine type?

If the vaccine type you originally received is approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) as a two-dose vaccine, then the two combined doses will mean you are fully vaccinated. 

If the vaccine type you originally received has not been approved by the WHO or FDA, then whatever you receive in the US will be considered the start of your vaccination, and you should get two doses here. 

I have received a complete two-shot vaccination in my home country, but the vaccine has not yet received emergency use authorization from the WHO or FDA.  Should I get a duplicate vaccine series after I enter the US?

Yes - unless you received Covaxin.  Covaxin is under active consideration by the WHO, and may be approved by the time fall quarter starts at SCU, in which case you may not need additional vaccination doses if you completed vaccination with Covaxin in your home country.

Will international students and students coming from outside of the US who have been vaccinated in their countries need to be re-vaccinated in the United States with a vaccine that is authorized for use in the US?

SCU will accept COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

In the interest of health and safety, if you are outside the US and you only have access to a non-FDA/WHO-authorized vaccine (e.g. Sputnik V), we still recommend that you get vaccinated with the non-FDA/WHO-authorized vaccine as soon as possible. 

SCU will continue to review guidance from US authorities on how to manage students who have received vaccines not approved by the FDA or WHO. Students who are partially vaccinated or vaccinated with a vaccine not approved by the FDA or WHO will be required to receive a vaccine no later than 14 days after arrival in the US.  In the interim while on campus, you may be subject to special safety measures, like quarantine, frequent asymptomatic testing, and more extensive masking requirements.

SCU is planning to assist students needing additional vaccinations or boosters upon arrival in the US, based on guidance at that time.

If an international student is not able to find two doses of the same vaccine, is it okay to have a mix of different vaccines?

Neither the U.S. Centers for Disease Control or WHO are currently recommending mixing vaccines, due to the lack of completed clinical trials on the effectiveness of combining two different vaccines. However, there is some evidence emerging from smaller studies that mixed vaccination is effective, and likely works better than a single dose. We recommend talking to your doctor before proceeding. If your first shot was with a two-dose vaccine and a different vaccine is your only option for the second shot, either before or after you get to the U.S., we will accept the combination as a complete vaccination.

Is it okay if my proof of vaccination is in another language?

If your vaccine documentation has no English translation included, please include a translation when submitting it. We will follow up with you if there are further questions about the document.

Will fully vaccinated international students coming from outside the United States be required to quarantine upon arrival at Santa Clara University?

Fully vaccinated students who are asymptomatic will not need to quarantine. Students who have Covid-19 symptoms will have to quarantine.

Are international students residing in the Bay Area eligible for the vaccine?

Yes, international students residing in the US are eligible for the vaccine at state and country distribution sites, regardless of citizenship.

Can I get my vaccine during my quarantine?

Yes, if your quarantine is travel-related, you can leave for vaccination.


Can I get COVID-19 in between vaccine doses?

Yes, you can still be infected with COVID-19 in between your two-dose vaccine regimen. Make sure you continue mask-wearing and other safety protocols. If you do contract COVID-19 between vaccine doses, you should isolate for the required 10 days and then, provided you are asymptomatic, reschedule your second vaccine. 

If I have an underlying condition, can I get a vaccine?

People with underlying medical conditions can receive the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. Learn more about vaccination considerations for people with underlying medical conditions. Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Can I get a vaccine if I am currently sick with COVID-19?

People with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation; those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine

If I’ve had COVID-19 and recovered, should I still get a vaccine?

You should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Will the vaccines work on new COVID variants?

Early research suggests that both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer protection against new variants of COVID-19. Whether the protection is at the same level as for the dominant strain of COVID-19 remains to be determined. So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

The most common side effects are pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot. In addition, you may have fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. These side effects are more common after the second shot. The side effects may affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Learn more about what to expect after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

How long does protection from the vaccine last?

We don’t know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated. Experts are working to learn more about both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity, and the CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available. What we do know is that COVID-19 has caused very serious illness and death for a lot of people. If you get COVID-19, you also risk giving it to loved ones who may get very sick. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer choice.

How many shots do I need?

Two of the currently authorized vaccines to prevent COVID-19 in the United States require two shots to get the most protection. The third, the Janssen vaccine from Johnson & Johnson,  requires only one shot. 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech doses should be given 3 weeks (21 days) apart
  • Moderna doses should be given 1 month (28 days) apart

You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 1-month interval as possible. However, there is no maximum interval between the first and second doses for either vaccine. You should not get the second dose earlier than the recommended interval.

It’s important for us to keep using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic while we learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work in real-world conditions. Experts are also looking at how many people get vaccinated, how the coronavirus is spreading in communities, and the effects of new mutations in the virus. CDC will continue to update this page as we learn more.

Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. Additional information can be found at key things to know about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Should I continue to get tested even after I am vaccinated?

We recommend that you continue to get tested weekly until three weeks after your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or three weeks after receiving your J&J vaccine.

Where can I find the ingredients in the vaccine?

To learn more about the ingredients, see: 

To learn more about ingredients in the J&J vaccine see: