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COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions


Beginning fall 2021, the University will require all faculty, staff, and students accessing any University campus or facility, who do not claim an exemption, to be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Explore frequently asked questions below reqarding the COVID-19 vaccine, the University's vaccination policy, and employee information concerning the vaccine.

  General Questions About Vaccines

Should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?

The University strongly recommends that all Waves get vaccinated. The vaccine helps protect you from getting COVID-19 and may prevent serious illness if you get infected once you're vaccinated. By getting vaccinated, you can also help protect your family, friends, and fellow Waves.


How do I know if the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

All COVID-19 vaccines were tested in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and protect adults of different ages, races, and ethnicities. There were no serious safety concerns. The CDC and the FDA will keep monitoring the vaccines to look for safety issues.


Can the vaccine give me COVID-19?

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use or in development in the US use the live virus that causes COVID-19. However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. This means that it's possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick.


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

Yes. The CDC recommends getting vaccinated even if you’ve already had COVID-19. 


Can my child get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Children age 12 and older are currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.


Is the vaccine safe if I have an underlying medical condition?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.


Can I get the vaccine if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Yes. Pregnant women have a higher risk for complications from COVID-19 disease. There are no study results available yet on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women, though some are underway. However, experts believe that the vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to the woman or the fetus. Pregnant women can talk with a doctor about their risk of COVID-19 disease and how they might benefit from vaccination.


Is it better to get natural immunity to COVID-19 rather than from a vaccine?

No. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, how long that protection lasts is unknown. Vaccination is the best and safest form of protection. People who get COVID-19 can have serious illnesses, and some have debilitating symptoms that can persist for months.


Will the shot hurt or make me sick?

There may be side effects, but they should go away in a few days. Possible side effects include a sore arm, headache, fever, or body aches. This does not mean you have COVID-19. Side effects are signs that the vaccine is working to build immunity. If they don't go away in a week, or you have more serious symptoms, call your doctor.


Are there long-term side effects from COVID-19 vaccines?

Because all COVID-19 vaccines are new, it will take more time and more people getting vaccinated to learn about very rare or possible long-term side effects. However, at least eight weeks' worth of safety data was gathered in clinical trials for all authorized vaccines, and it's unusual for vaccine side effects to appear more than eight weeks after vaccination. Vaccine manufacturers have continued to monitor the individuals participating in their clinical trials for any long-term issues that may arise.


Do I have to pay for the vaccine?

Community members can receive the vaccine at no cost no matter where they receive the vaccine.


Should I get my vaccine at Pepperdine?

The Student Health Center on the Malibu campus has been approved as a COVID-19 vaccine distribution site by the California COVID-19 Vaccination Program and vaccinations are being offered at on-campus clinics as the University receives additional supply of the vaccine. Community members, however, who wish to be vaccinated and meet current eligibility requirements are strongly encouraged to receive the vaccine elsewhere if possible and not wait for the vaccine to become available at the University. Learn more about the Student Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic.


How can I make an appointment to receive my vaccine at Pepperdine?

Pepperdine's Student Health Center is an approved distributor of the COVID-19 vaccine and has appointments available for those in the Malibu area. Those who wish to receive the vaccine at the Malibu campus can contact the Student Health Center at 310.506.4316, option 3 or the COVID-19 Information Line at 310.506.8111.

  COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

Does Pepperdine have a vaccination policy?

Yes. With the objective of prioritizing the health and safety of our faculty, staff, and students, while ensuring the highest standards of academic excellence and a transformative student experience, the University Management Committee (UMC) gathered community feedback on a draft COVID-19 vaccination policy, evaluated Pepperdine vaccination data, consulted with leading medical experts, and benchmarked other universities. Following this work, UMC issued a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy requiring all faculty, staff, and students who do not claim an exemption described below to be vaccinated in advance of return to campus for the fall semester.

This policy acknowledges the University's high degree of confidence in COVID-19 vaccinations, with authorized vaccines proving effective in preventing illness and death, including from known variants. The policy also recognizes there are those in our community who, after carefully and prayerfully considering how best to balance their medical health and religious or philosophical convictions with their desire to care for their neighbors and our community, have determined they are unable to be vaccinated at this time. Therefore, the policy entitles community members to claim a medical, religious, or philosophical exemption in good faith. These exemption categories mirror the University's long-standing mandatory vaccination practices. Community members who need to claim an exemption (which could include one based on emergency authorization of the vaccine) must complete the vaccination exemption form, the instructions for which can be found on the COVID-19 Vaccine Information website.

Can I request a COVID-19 vaccination exemption under this University policy?

Yes. The COVID-19 Vaccination Policy entitles community members to claim a medical, religious, or philosophical exemption in good faith. These exemption categories mirror the University's long-standing mandatory vaccination practices. Community members who need to claim an exemption (which could include one based on emergency authorization of the vaccine) must complete the COVID-19 Vaccination Exemption Form.

Am I required to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine policy?

Yes, as with all University policies, compliance is required. Compliance is achieved through vaccination or by claiming an exemption. We are confident that our community members will comply with these important health and safety provisions. As with other compliance matters involving the University, we should all assume goodwill that our community members are following the necessary requirements to help keep each other safe.

In the unlikely event of continued non-compliance, these matters will be directed to the Office of Community Standards for students, the Office of the Provost for faculty, or Human Resources for staff members. Consequences will be the same as for other failures to comply with University policy.

Do I need to take any precautions after I am vaccinated?

Consistent with our standard practices regarding mandatory vaccines, students must submit proof of vaccination by July 31, 2021.

How do I submit proof of vaccination?

Consistent with our standard practices regarding mandatory vaccines, students will be directed to submit proof of vaccination. Instructions for submitting documentation are forthcoming, and verification must be submitted by July 31, 2021.

Could my vaccination status be disclosed to others at the University?

Yes. The Student Health Center prioritizes confidentiality of medical records. It is important to remember vaccination status is not protected HIPAA information. Vaccination documentation, including exemption forms and medical records, will be kept confidential. Vaccination status will be shared with University officials who have a legitimate need to know this information. This may include faculty or staff in academic or administrative settings, or for contact tracing purposes, etc.

Is vaccination required if I am a student, faculty, or staff member participating in an international study abroad program?

Yes. Seaver College international programs participants studying outside of the United States are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

If unvaccinated, could I be subject to additional infection control measures?

While we do not know precisely which infection control measures will be required by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) in the fall, we expect LACDPH may mandate face coverings indoors for those not vaccinated, and for all community members when riding campus shuttles and in the health center. We also understand LACDPH will continue to require a ten-day solitary quarantine for any unvaccinated person identified as a close contact with a positive case. In contrast, fully vaccinated persons identified as close contacts will not have to quarantine. Periodic testing could also be required. The University will comply with applicable public health orders.


Will campus visitors be required to be vaccinated?

LACDPH has indicated the county is developing new guidance for institutes of higher education. Once released, this guidance will inform Pepperdine's requirements for visitors on campus and the University will update its practices regarding visitors at that time.

  Vaccination Information for Employees

Am I required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to return to work on campus?

Yes. In an effort to prioritize the health and safety of all faculty, staff, and students—while ensuring the highest standards of academic excellence and a transformative student experience—the University requires that at the start of the fall 2021 semester all faculty, staff, and students accessing any University campus or facility who do not claim an exemption must receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

If I am in the process of being vaccinated, and will only have one dose completed by the time I return to campus on August 2, is there a way I can comply with Pepperdine's vaccine policy?

Yes. Submit your documentation for your first vaccine dose to indicate you are making progress towards COVID-19 vaccination. Once you receive your second dose, please reupload your information to provide a complete record of your vaccination status.

Is there a deadline for being fully vaccinated or claiming an exemption?

By the time you return to campus for the fall term, beginning August 2, 2021, all employees must be vaccinated, be in the process of completing vaccination, or have claimed a vaccine exemption. Employees considering claiming an exemption are encouraged to do so as soon as possible on the COVID-19 Vaccination Information website.

Can I request a COVID-19 vaccination exemption?

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccination policy entitles community members to claim a medical, religious, or philosophical exemption in good faith. These exemption categories mirror the University's long-standing mandatory vaccination practices. Community members who need to claim an exemption (which could include one based on emergency authorization of the vaccine) must complete the vaccination exemption form, the instructions for which can be found on the COVID-19 Vaccine Information website.

Who will approve my exemption claim? How long does the approval process take? 

Human Resources will review each vaccination exemption claim and contact the employee if there is additional information needed. Once the exemption is reviewed, Human Resources will notify each employee of its approval status, generally within two business days of submission. 

Can I submit more than one exemption claim? How long does the exemption last if approved?

An employee may only submit one exemption request per academic semester for religious, philosophical, and/or medical exemption. In the exemption form, employees may explain their claim falls under more than one category. 

I requested a philosophical exemption based on vaccines under emergency use authorization. What do I do once a vaccine is fully approved?

If employees are vaccinated at a later date once a vaccine is fully approved, they should resubmit the Vaccination Notification Form to reflect their recently changed vaccination status. Employees may request another vaccination exemption if they choose not to be vaccinated once a vaccine is fully approved. 


What if I had COVID-19 and do not wish to be vaccinated because I believe I now have the antibodies?

Under the Vaccine Policy, all employees must be vaccinated unless they claim an exemption, regardless of whether or not they previously have tested positive for COVID-19. Those who do not wish to receive a vaccine may claim a vaccine exemption. Instructions on how to submit this request can be found on the COVID-19 Vaccination Information website.

If I am an employee who primarily or permanently works remotely, do I still need to notify the University of my vaccination status?

Yes. All employees and students must notify the University of their vaccination status, including those who are not regularly on one of the Pepperdine campuses, as supervisors may ask employees at any time to return to campus, attend on-campus events/meetings, etc. 


I am uncomfortable coming to campus. Can I work fully remotely until pandemic conditions improve?

Regardless of vaccination status, staff who wish to continue working remotely should speak with their supervisors about the possibility of working remotely. Faculty members should look to their school to confirm teaching expectations. If you are needed on campus for business reasons, but unable to do so for personal reasons, please contact Human Resources to discuss your options, including the possibility of a COVID-19 Leave.

Does my Pepperdine healthcare plan cover the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is currently offered at no cost to all individuals, regardless of medical insurance coverage. Pepperdine University strongly encourages all community members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible at any vaccination site.

Those covered under a Pepperdine healthcare plan are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine without cost sharing (meaning they will not be required to pay any amount toward their regular deductibles, coinsurance, or copayments). The COVID-19 vaccine is 100 percent covered and there are no vaccination site restrictions for Anthem and Kaiser Permanente insurance members.

How do I schedule a vaccine appointment?

Below is a list of links and resources to help you locate and schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment near you. Vaccine doses are in limited supply, and appointment availability changes frequently. 

  • Pepperdine's Student Health Center is an approved distributor of the COVID-19 vaccine and has appointments available for those in the Malibu area.
  • California’s MyTurn website is the state’s centralized eligibility and appointment website. Choose a site that specifies “All Eligible Groups.”
  • Carbon Health
  • Kaiser Permanente (available for members and non-members)
  • County websites offer additional options for vaccine appointment scheduling:

  • Local pharmacies also have vaccine appointments available:


Will I be compensated during the time I am getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Employees may be compensated for up to 3 hours of regular time spent receiving the vaccine, regardless of location, including travel time. Employees may use their sick or vacation accruals for any additional time away above 3 hours. Please work with your supervisor to receive the vaccine within your normal work hours, or to adjust your schedule to accommodate an after-hours appointment. Employees may not accrue overtime due to vaccine appointments. 


Can I use sick time to take a family member to get a vaccine?

Employees may use up to one half of their annual accrual of sick time for eligible family members (an employee’s child, parent or guardian, spouse or registered domestic partner, grandchild, grandparent, and sibling). Preventive services, such as the COVID-19 vaccination, are eligible uses of family sick time. 


Is mileage reimbursement available for obtaining the vaccine?

Mileage reimbursement is not available for traveling to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.


Do I need to inform the University after I have been vaccinated?

Yes. All employees are required to complete the Employee COVID-19 Vaccine Notification Form.

Can I ask my colleagues if they are vaccinated? Must I answer my colleague’s question regarding whether I am vaccinated?

Good judgment will be especially important in this area. While anyone can inquire about a colleague’s vaccination status, employees are only obligated to respond to a question about vaccination status when the individual asking the question has a legitimate need to know the answer. Typically a legitimate need to know will rest with supervisors, faculty members, or administrators for the purposes of planning and ensuring the community’s health and safety. Inquiries about why someone is not vaccinated are prohibited by law and should not be asked.. For questions, please contact the COVID-19 Information Line at 310.506.8111 or via email at covid19info@pepperdine.edu, and learn more about the University’s Vaccination Status Inquiry Guidelines.

Will I be notified if my coworkers have been approved for a vaccine exemption?

Generally no. Knowledge about an employee’s vaccination status is limited to those at the University who have a legitimate need to know.

Can I voluntarily share my vaccination status?

Yes, may voluntarily share your vaccination status with your supervisor, colleagues, and/or students.

Can my supervisor ask me if I am vaccinated?

Yes. The University has a legitimate need to know whether employees are vaccinated, both to protect the health of the Pepperdine community and ensure compliance with public health guidelines. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and the administrators of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) have stated that, given the current COVID-19 health risks, a person’s vaccination status is not protected health information. Supervisors, faculty members, and administrators must follow the Vaccination Status Inquiry Guidelines when inquiring about employees’ vaccination status.
 

If I suspect or know someone is unvaccinated, and I am uncomfortable attending a meeting with them, what should I do?

Non-supervising employees or students with concerns regarding a person’s vaccination status should contact Human Resources or the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, respectively.

Who should I notify regarding concerns about noncompliance with University policies or public health guidelines?

The University community is encouraged to notify the following parties to appropriately address concerns related to noncompliance:

  • The employee’s supervisor
  • Office of Community Standards (310.506.6321) for non-compliant students
  • Human Resources (310.506.4397) for non-compliant staff members 
  • Office of the Provost (310.5064261) for non-compliant faculty members 

Since vaccines will be mandated, will we still have to wear face coverings and maintain physical distance in the workplace? 

The University and Pepperdine community members are expected to continue to follow public health guidelines, including those related to face coverings and physical distancing, regardless of vaccination status. As of July 18, all employees must wear face coverings in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status. Generally, with limited exceptions primarily related to eating and drinking in break rooms, there are no physical distancing requirements.

Instead of being vaccinated, can I instead continue to maintain physical distance and wear PPE?

No. Infection control measures are not a substitute for the actions required under the University’s vaccine policy. Unless you have claimed an exemption, all faculty, staff, and students must be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine and comply with the most current policies on social distancing and face coverings. Non-vaccinated community members may be required to comply with additional measures like periodic testing.


I am unvaccinated and would like to eat with vaccinated individuals. May I do this?

Currently, guidelines require unvaccinated individuals to remain six feet away from vaccinated individuals while eating or drinking indoors. There are no social distancing guidelines for eating with others outdoors.

May unvaccinated individuals use shared items such as office supplies, breakroom items, and classroom items?

Yes. All community members may use shared office, classroom, and breakroom items. Departments may implement heightened cleaning protocols for these items if appropriate.


Will the vanpool be operating again this fall?

Yes. Under current guidelines, the University expects the vanpool portion of the Rideshare Program to operate this fall. Riders are currently required to wear face coverings at all times while in the vehicle with others. Please contact Greyson Orellana for more information about the program, including cost and availability.

  Additional Information for Faculty

Can I exclude a student from an in-person class session, event, activity, or meeting if they are unvaccinated?

University-sponsored events, meetings, or classes (including all work or research that falls within the scope of employment for Pepperdine staff or faculty members) generally may not be limited to vaccinated individuals. If there is an extraordinary rationale for a University-sponsored event to be limited to vaccinated individuals, the hosting department may submit a request for permission to do so by contacting Human Resources.

Can faculty implement additional requirements beyond public health guidance and University policy? 

No. Generally, community members may not institute additional COVID-19 infection control protocols beyond applicable public health orders and University policies. If a faculty member has an extraordinary reason to request additional requirements, the requester may seek permission to do so by contacting Human Resources.


Will I be notified of the students in my class(es) that are unvaccinated or have been approved for a vaccine exemption?

Faculty members may ask students their vaccination status for the purposes of planning and ensuring the community’s health and safety. Inquiries about why someone is not vaccinated is prohibited by law and should not be asked. Faculty members may also inquire about the vaccination status of classes by contacting the COVID-19 information line at 310.506.8111. Please contact Human Resources for questions, and learn more in the Vaccination Status Inquiry Guidelines.

I would like to request all students in my class to wear a face covering. Can I do this?

As of July 18, everyone must wear face coverings while indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Generally, no additional measures beyond public health order or University policy mandates may be required. If a faculty member has an extraordinary reason to request additional COVID-19 infection control protocols beyond public health orders or University policy, the requester may seek permission to do so by contacting Human Resources.

  Information for Supervisors

Can I ask my employees if they are vaccinated?

Yes. It is important to use good judgment. In the Pepperdine community, a person is only obligated to respond to a question about vaccination status when the individual asking the question has a legitimate need to know the answer. Typically a legitimate need to know will rest with supervisors, faculty members, or administrators for the purposes of planning and ensuring the community’s health and safety. Inquiries about why someone is not vaccinated is prohibited by law and should not be asked. Please contact Human Resources for questions, and learn more in the Vaccination Status Inquiry Guidelines.

My student or staff employee told me they are vaccinated, and I would like to see documentation. May I ask for this? 

Like all matters involving the University community, we should all in the first instance assume good will that others in our community are following the necessary requirements to help keep each other safe. If you are concerned about untruthfulness or noncompliance, contact the Office of Community Standards for students, the Office of the Provost for faculty, or Human Resources for staff members for further assistance.

What is a legitimate reason to ask for an employee’s vaccination status?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and the administrators of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) have stated that, given the current COVID-19 health risks, a person’s vaccination status is not protected health information. However, if we were not in this public health crisis, this information likely otherwise would be protected information. Supervisors should only inquire about an employee’s vaccination status for legitimate business reasons, such as planning and ensuring the community’s health and safety.

When requesting an employee’s vaccination status, is there a process I should follow?

When inquiring about an employee’s vaccination status, please follow the Vaccination Status Inquiry Guidelines.

Can supervisors share the vaccine status of one employee with another?

Generally, non-supervising employees would not have a legitimate need to know the vaccination status of a colleague, and students would not have a legitimate need to know the vaccination status of another student. Supervisors should not share an employee’s vaccination status with another employee. For questions, please contact Human Resources.


Can I exclude an employee from an activity or meeting if they are unvaccinated?

If an event is purely personal and outside the scope of your employment, an individual may make his/her own determinations. Any University-sponsored events, meetings, or classes (including all work or research that falls within the scope of employment for Pepperdine staff or faculty members) generally may not be limited to vaccinated individuals. If there is an extraordinary rationale for a University-sponsored event to be limited to vaccinated individuals, the hosting department may submit a request for permission to do so by contacting Human Resources.


Is it appropriate to mention Pepperdine’s vaccine requirement during my hiring/interview process?

Yes. It is important to communicate that all faculty, staff, and students accessing any University campus or facility, who do not claim an exemption, are required to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine. All new employees must submit the Vaccination Notification Form upon hire. Hiring supervisors should not ask candidates their vaccination status.


What if my new employee has received the vaccine, but has not met the two-week waiting period, by their first day of work?

Fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is defined as two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine series or two weeks after the vaccination of a single-dose vaccine. New employees may come to campus while in the process of vaccination and are expected to follow all public health orders and University policy. Until fully vaccinated, the person must comply with rules for unvaccinated individuals.


Does the vaccine policy apply to temporary employees? 

Yes. Beginning fall 2021, all faculty, staff, and students accessing any University campus or facility, who do not claim an exemption, are required to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.


As a supervisor, can I ask a student employee their vaccination status?

Yes. Student employees should be treated as staff when inquiring about vaccination status.