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Vaccination Status Inquiry and Related Guidelines

Background

Under the University's COVID-19 Vaccine Policy, beginning the fall 2021 term, 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. 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, however, concerns arise, please follow the guidelines below and practice compassion when addressing potential concerns, recognizing people have different perspectives, needs, and fears returning to community.

Inquiring About Someone's Vaccination Status 

Community members may wonder if questions may be asked about 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 might otherwise be protected information. Thus, at Pepperdine, we will utilize this information in a responsible manner.

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. At Pepperdine, a legitimate need to know other community members’ vaccination status will rest with supervisors, faculty members, or administrators for the purpose of ensuring the community’s health and safety. For planning or verification purposes, supervisors or faculty may inquire directly to employees or students, respectively. They may also request confirmation of vaccination status for individuals or classes through the COVID-19 Information Line at 310.506.8111 or via email at covid19info@pepperdine.edu.

Knowing this is a sensitive issue for some, community members with a legitimate need to know should use discretion and good judgment when asking about vaccination status, considering the setting, privacy, and circumstances of the inquiry. Questions in this area must be limited to asking if an individual is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Further questioning about reasons why someone is unvaccinated is prohibited by law and could result in disciplinary action. 

For example, and because of the public health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pepperdine supervisors may ask and require an answer from their employees, and Pepperdine faculty members may ask and require an answer from their students, whether a person is vaccinated. Questioning must not go beyond vaccination status.

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. 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.

Limiting Gatherings to Vaccinated Individuals Only

University-sponsored events, meetings, or classes, 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 host/professor may submit a request for permission to do so. Employees should contact Human Resources, and students should contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. A team of Human Resources and medical professionals, and a representative from the Provost’s Office, will review the request and make a determination based on 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.

No Additional Infection Control Protocols may be Implemented 

Generally, community members may not institute for others additional COVID-19 infection control protocols beyond applicable public health orders and University policies.  

For example, regardless of vaccination status, current applicable health orders require all community members to wear a face covering in indoor public settings, on campus shuttles, and at the student health center. Supervisors, faculty members, and administrators may invite employees or students in any University campus or facility to wear face coverings outside, but may not require this action if not otherwise required by applicable health orders. 

If a community member has an extraordinary reason to request an individual or group be required to adhere to infection control measures beyond current health order mandates or University policy requirements, the requester may seek permission to do so. Employees should contact Human Resources, and students should contact the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. A team of Human Resources and medical professionals, and a representative from the Provost’s Office, will review the request and make a determination based on 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.