UC requires COVID-19 vaccine

President Neville G. Pinto's announcement to campus regarding UC's vaccine requirement

The below message was shared with all faculty, staff and students today:

As we have all along, university leaders continue to follow the scientific data and listen to medical experts from our Academic Health Center to enact measures to support the health of our community. These experts have made it clear that COVID-19 cases are rising at a concerning rate both locally and nationally.

In response to last week’s full FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the University of Cincinnati will require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The university is taking this step to promote the health and safety of our university community. Research shows vaccines are the most effective form of protection against COVID-19.

The deadline for all UC students, faculty and staff to have at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is October 15, 2021. Those receiving a two-dose sequence must have received the second dose by November 15, 2021. All World Health Organization endorsed vaccines, including those in the U.S. made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, will fulfill the vaccine requirement. Booster shots may also be required in the future.

The vaccination requirement will apply to students, faculty and staff members who come to campus for their classes, work and/or otherwise use campus facilities. There will be an opportunity to request an exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical reasons, sincerely held reasons of conscience or religious beliefs.

Members of the campus community who are not vaccinated by the above deadlines will be required to be tested weekly. Students who do not achieve and share fully vaccinated status (which requires two weeks after final dose) or do not receive an exemption by Spring semester will be unenrolled from Spring semester classes. Faculty and staff who are not vaccinated by the above deadlines and who are not approved for an exemption will be subject to discipline in accordance with applicable UC policy and collective bargaining agreements.

Our focus continues to be the wellbeing of our community. We believe this step best positions our university to meet the needs of our campus community. To put it simply, the higher our vaccination rate, the less disruption we anticipate to our academic mission and the better we expect to be able to deliver a more dynamic campus experience.

We have taken time to engage our campus and review the feedback that has been shared from faculty, staff and students regarding the idea of requiring a vaccine. I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to convey their thoughts on the matter, from undergraduate to graduate students, to our faculty and staff via their governance bodies, as well as the collective bargaining units that have partnered with administration, to help us reach a decision. It is important to us to listen to our community, and there is strong support for this requirement.

Still, it isn’t lost on me that some in our UC community hold a different opinion. Please know the decision to require a vaccine does not come easily, and I recognize that deeply personal reasons impact your thoughts and choices around this topic. As we move forward, we will continue to emphasize the common good while also listening closely to all of our communities.

Listening to one another is crucial, even if we disagree. The more we truly listen, the more we will unite over our common values rather than divide over polarizing issues. We have a long road ahead during this unpredictable pandemic, and it will be a journey best travelled caring for one another.

I am sure that you may have questions, and we have updated our Public Health website with an FAQ on the matter. You may also call 513-556-2658 to reach our COVID-19 hotline.

Thank you for doing your part to safeguard our campus community.

Warm regards,
Neville G. Pinto