Now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has fully approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccination on Aug. 23, Saint Mary’s University expects all students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated unless an exemption is filed. Any of the currently available vaccines will meet this vaccination requirement. The decision to require vaccinations upon FDA approval was announced to the entire Saint Mary’s community on Aug. 4.

The expectation is that all individuals will provide proof of vaccination or file a medical or non-medical exemption. Saint Mary’s is expanding its health services system, currently utilized for College students on the Winona Campus, for purposes of filing proof of vaccination or exemption for all students, faculty, and staff. Individuals will utilize the self-service portal to upload proof of vaccination or access and upload forms certifying an exemption.

The portal will be available on Wednesday, Sept. 1. A link will be sent out when available.

The university expects all faculty, staff, and students to comply with the above requirement no later than Friday, Oct. 8. As communicated, you may file for an exemption based on medical or non-medical reasons. Information on the process for proof of vaccination or for filing an exemption are below and will be posted on the portal on the dates referenced above.

While technically any of the vaccines meets the vaccination requirements, as a Lasallian Catholic university, it is important to offer the guidance and the perspective of the Catholic Church on vaccines. As such, the following resources may be helpful:

We want to be together this fall. We have been informed by the Minnesota Department of Health that having 85-90% of our community vaccinated will allow us to continue a safe, uninterrupted, and personalized academic experience.

The information below explains the processes and answers key questions you may have. Please visit smumn.edu/covid19, which includes updated Q&As as we receive questions.

What is the vaccination proof process? What do I need to provide?

Saint Mary’s University will utilize a health services portal to manage compliance with its COVID-19 vaccination requirement. This self-service portal is currently utilized by College students to provide proof of other required vaccinations and health records. The system is FERPA and HIPAA compliant.

The health services portal will be accessed through single sign-on, meaning that faculty, staff, and students will utilize the username and password associated with other university systems. Once logged in to the portal, individuals will:

  1. Select the type of vaccination and date(s) received.
  2. Upload an image of their vaccination card.
  3. Access forms to obtain a medical or non-medical exemption.
  4. Upload completed forms to certify a medical or non-medical exemption.

All documentation related to this process is self-service and will be managed through the health services portal. Individuals are required to file proof of vaccination or a certification of exemption.

What is the exemption process?

To file an exemption from receiving a COVID-19 vaccination, you must certify one of the following:

  • Medical. Download the medical exemption form from the health services portal and upload the completed form.
  • Non-medical. Download the personal exemption form from the health services portal and upload the completed form.

When do we have to have vaccinations?

Assuming there is availability of the vaccine, you need to schedule your first vaccine within two weeks of the date of FDA approval (Aug. 23). The timing and number of doses is different for each of the vaccines. All vaccinations must be completed no later than Oct. 8.

As a Catholic university, do you oppose the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

These various links are good resources that answer this question:

Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines (Vatican)

Moral consideration regarding the new COVID-19 vaccines (USCCB)

Can I get any of the vaccines?

You may choose any COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA either through the full FDA approval process or through the Emergency Use Authorization. The Pfizer vaccine is approved but you are not limited to the Pfizer vaccine.

If I am vaccinated, will I still have to quarantine if I am a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19?

Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine. Fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested 3-5 days after exposure and wear a mask while indoors for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result.

Will everyone still have to wear masks if the majority of the community is vaccinated?

Our universal masking mandate will remain in place as long as Hennepin, Olmsted, and Winona counties are counties of high or substantial transmission of COVID-19. We may relax the masking mandate once that is no longer the case. However, some masking will be required until 85-90% of each campus community is fully vaccinated.

If I am a student taking all of my classes online, do I need to be vaccinated?

Yes, if you are an online only student, we still require a vaccine unless you file for a medical or non-medical exemption. Many of our online students do come on campus for student services, events, commencement, or other reasons.

What if I’ve lost my card?

You can obtain your COVID-19 vaccination records through the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection. In Illinois, you can access your COVID-19 vaccination record through the Illinois Resident Immunization Portal. In Wisconsin, you can access your COVID-19 vaccination record through the Wisconsin Immunization Registry.

Will my professors (or my supervisors) know if I am not vaccinated?

The university does not intend to share a student’s vaccination status with a professor or supervisor, nor does it intend to share an employee’s vaccination status with supervisors.

Will there be extensions granted for the vaccination if I am not able to meet the deadline?

Extensions will only be granted for significant extenuating circumstances.

Where can I get vaccinated?

We will continue to follow these safety protocols:

  • Physical distancing of 6 feet should be observed.
  • Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.
  • Self-screen for symptoms on a daily basis.
  • Show respect and kindness for one another.

We, as a strong and resilient community, use the phrase “Together, we are Saint Mary’s” to emphasize our responsibility and connection to one another. It has and will continue to take effort, patience, and commitment by all of us to deliver the best educational experience possible. We remain steadfast and resilient, and we remain together.

Ann Merchlewitz
Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Ben Murray
Executive Vice President and CFO

Brian Schmisek
Provost and Dean of Faculties

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