June 16, 2021: COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Dear St. Thomas students, faculty and staff,

We hope you are enjoying the start of summer and taking some well-earned downtime. A year ago, we didn’t quite know what to expect while preparing for on-campus operations during a global pandemic. We all should feel proud our university successfully completed the academic year as planned – it was truly a collective effort that demonstrated our St. Thomas values, convictions and care for each other.

Our goal is to return to normal, pre-pandemic operations this fall. We hope that means full classrooms, few (if any) restrictions in the residence halls or at campus events, no social distancing policies, and no face covering requirements. To get there, we need as many community members as possible vaccinated against COVID-19. How will we achieve this? Our approach will involve:
  • Strongly encouraging all community members (who are medically able) to get vaccinated; we will do this in a variety of ways, including an incentive program
  • Increased access to and information about COVID-19 vaccines for all community members
  • A new requirement for all students and employees to confidentially report their vaccination status to the university before the fall semester
At this time, St. Thomas has chosen to not require COVID-19 vaccines in order to learn or work on campus. This decision was made after months of lengthy discussions with various university stakeholders, consultations with leading health care experts (including our Morrison Family College of Health advisory board), and input from organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

We are not ruling out a possible future university-wide mandate, and certain activities such as study abroad, university-sponsored travel and field and clinical placements may require participants to be vaccinated. At this time, however, we believe incentivizing our community, increasing access and implementing required reporting will ultimately lead to a higher number of vaccinated individuals on campus as opposed to a mandate with exemptions. Here are the details:

New Incentive Program

Our incentive program is designed to strongly encourage our students, faculty and staff who are medically able to get their vaccines before the fall 2021 semester. All university community members – whether you were vaccinated months ago or are just now making your appointment – will be eligible. The incentives are wide ranging, from gift cards to discounts on study abroad experiences and tuition; from professional development funds for faculty to extra time off for staff. Final program details, including a full list of incentives, will be announced soon. All vaccinated community members who wish to participate can sign up here.

Increased Access

The Center for Well-Being will expand its COVID-19 vaccine capacity to include Moderna doses, in addition to its current supply of single-dose Johnson & Johnson shots. Vaccine appointments are available Mondays and Tuesdays this summer (call (651)-962-6750 if you need to schedule a different appointment time); schedule your appointment online through the Center for Well-Being’s myHealthPortal (St. Thomas login information is required). Additionally, we anticipate offering vaccination clinics at upcoming student events such as orientation and registration. 

For those not on campus, please visit vaccineconnector.mn.gov/en-US/ or contact your local pharmacy.

Required Reporting

To effectively plan for the fall, we need an accurate count of vaccinated community members. To facilitate this, St. Thomas will require all students, faculty and staff to confidentially report their vaccination status by Aug. 1, 2021. 

If you were vaccinated in Minnesota, the Center for Well-Being should already have record of your vaccination through the secure Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC) system. If you are vaccinated in a different state or outside of the U.S., you must upload your vaccination status documents to Center for Well-Being’s myHealthPortal.
 
Students and employees who do not have their vaccination status on record at the Center for Well-Being will receive an email in the next week with instructions to upload their vaccination cards, or to complete a form reporting their non-vaccination. Please be assured this information will be kept confidential unless you provide signed consent to release.

The COVID-19 vaccines represent our best chance for a return to normal. We want as many of our community members as possible to get their shots! We also know there is a wide range of opinions on this matter; after carefully weighing and debating our options, we have chosen a path we believe will lead to a greater number of vaccinated community members on campus. We will continue to monitor our progress and make adjustments as needed.

Please feel free to continue sending questions via email to COVIDInfo@stthomas.edu or call our COVID-19 Information Line (651)-962-6133.

Thank you for your attention,

Karen M. Lange, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Co-chair, Campus Preparedness Plan

Wendy N. Wyatt, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Co-chair, Campus Preparedness Plan