As of May 15, 2022, SMU has sunset most pandemic protocols. The following are archived messages that are not reflective of the current campus COVID-19 policy. Visit the Mustang Strong website for the latest information on testing, masking, vaccinations and more.
UPDATE [12/8/2021]: Since this announcement was initially made, a federal judge in Georgia entered a nationwide injunction that temporarily stopped the enforcement of Executive Order (EO 14042). SMU is now pausing the requirement that all employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 18, 2022, unless and until the courts instruct otherwise. Follow smu.edu/coronavirus for the latest updates.
Will SMU require vaccination for employees?
Yes. Employees may seek a medical or religious exemption which must be approved prior to the January 18, 2022 deadline for compliance.
Why did SMU adopt a vaccination requirement for employees?
On September 9, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order (EO 14042) mandating, among other things, that all workplaces with certain federal contracts greater than $250,000 require all their employees to be vaccinated or seek a medical or religious exemption.
SMU evaluated the executive order and subsequent updated guidelines from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force and determined that the vaccine mandate applies to all SMU employees, regardless of whether they directly work on federal contracts. This includes faculty, staff, temporary employees, student employees, graduate research/teaching assistants/associates, and postdoctoral scholars. It does not apply to visitors or volunteers.
Other guidelines, such as masking in certain situations and social distancing where possible will also apply to SMU after the January 18, 2022 deadline.
As a private university, why is SMU considered a federal contractor?
Because SMU accepts funding from federal contracts in excess of $250,000, the executive order (EO 14042) applies to the University and all of its employees.
Do student employees need to meet the vaccine requirement?
Yes. The vaccine requirement applies to all individuals employed at SMU who are paid through the University’s payroll system including undergraduate and graduate student – employees (full-time and part-time.)
Do students have to be vaccinated?
No, unless students are employed by SMU, they are considered “visitors” under EO 14042. However, students and campus visitors must comply with other safety aspects of the order such as masking in certain situations and social distancing where possible after the January 18, 2022 deadline.
What does it mean to be “fully vaccinated”?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers an individual is “fully vaccinated” 14 days after completing their vaccine series, which means two weeks after receiving the second COVID-19 dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer and Moderna), or two weeks after the single dose (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.
Under the updated guidelines, all SMU employees need to receive all required vaccine doses by January 4, 2022, to be fully vaccinated by January 18, 2022.
Which vaccines will satisfy the vaccine requirement?
What if I am not fully vaccinated by the deadline?
The EO 14042 requires all employees to be fully vaccinated by January 18, 2022, unless they have been granted an accommodation for religious or medical reasons through SMU’s Office of Institutional Access and Equity (IAE). If a medical or religious accommodation to the vaccination requirement is granted, the University will provide reasonable accommodations under the applicable law.
The federal vaccine mandate makes the COVID-19 vaccination a condition of employment –meaning SMU employees must provide proof to SMU that they are fully vaccinated, or have an exemption request approved by SMU by January 18, 2022, to continue working at the University. Employees who do not comply with this requirement, or are not otherwise exempt, are subject to discipline under University employment policies up to and including unpaid leave and/or termination. Policies that apply include SMU Policy7.24, Corrective Action for Staff,SMU Policy 2.17 Procedural Standards for Faculty Sanctions and Dismissals, and/or SMU Policy 11.8 Infectious Diseases.
Can I work from home to avoid the vaccination requirement?
No. An unvaccinated employee who is not eligible for a medical or religious accommodation may not work remotely to avoid the vaccination requirement. Additionally, the EO 14042 and federal guidance clearly state that the vaccination requirement applies even to employees working from home.
Under the vaccine requirement, can I show proof of a negative COVID-19 test instead to continue working instead of getting the vaccine?
No, the federal mandate that applies to SMU does not permit a testing option.
How can I prove that I’ve been vaccinated?
If you received your vaccine at an off-campus location and have not provided proof yet, you will need to upload your vaccine information through the health center portal to provide a record to the University. You are urged to do this by December 1, 2021 but required to provide that documentation not later than January 18, 2022.
If you received your vaccine at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center on campus, or if you have previously uploaded your vaccine information through the health center portal, you don’t need to do anything. Your vaccination card is on record with the University.
Please note that individuals who previously uploaded an image of their card/proof may not see the photo if it has already been successfully translated to the vaccination records in the system.Follow these directions to confirm.
If you would prefer for SMU not to locate your record, please check with the provider that administered your vaccine for instructions on how to retrieve your vaccination proof.
Additional information on how to obtain a new vaccination card or other evidence of vaccination also can be found on the CDC website.
What does SMU consider proof of vaccination?
SMU is accepting the following records:
A CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (white card);
A World Health Organization Vaccine Record Card (yellow card);
Your medical records documenting the vaccination
Immunization records from a public health, state, or tribal health
Documentation of vaccination from the health care or other provider where you received the vaccine
Other official documentation containing the type of vaccine along with the date(s) and name of the health care professional or clinic that administered it
Can I get a vaccine on campus?
Yes. The University is an approved provider to make it as easy as possible for our employees (and their spouses and dependents ages 12 and older) and students to get the vaccine at no cost to them through the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center. You can schedule your vaccine with your SMU credentials through the health center portal, or by calling 214-768-2141.
The vaccine is free at all locations. Some providers may charge an administrative fee which is covered by SMU Insurance if the employee is enrolled.
What are the requirements for receiving an accommodation based on medical or religious reasons?
To learn more about how to request an exemption for medical or religious reasons and receive an accommodation from SMU, click here.
How long does it take to find out if my religious/medical accommodation has been granted/denied?
Religious and medical accommodations are being processed by IAE as quickly as possible—many within one to two business days of receiving them. Applicants can ensure a timely response by filling out all the required fields.
What happens if my exemption request has not been granted by the January 18 deadline?
I have already had COVID-19. Do I still have to be vaccinated?
Yes. EO 14042 also applies to individuals who have previously contracted COVID-19.
Isn’t it a HIPAA violation to ask for vaccination status and/or require it?
No. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that the Privacy Rule does not apply to employment records and does not prohibit a person or business from asking whether an individual has received a particular vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.
What about the legal challenges that have been filed to stop the federal vaccine requirement from going into effect?
SMU is closely following the status of these cases and will comply with any court ruling that would apply to our University. However, because of the narrow timeline to meet the federal requirements, SMU is moving forward with communications and preparation necessary to comply with the executive order by the current January 18, 2022 deadline.
If I am on an approved leave, including but not limited to FMLA, military, maternity, etc., does this requirement still apply to me?
Yes. EO14042 does not exclude individuals on an approved leave. Employees must submit vaccine documentation to the health center portal by January 18, 2022.
If I am terminated due to failure to comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, do I qualify for unemployment?
Decisions about who qualifies for unemployment are made by the Texas Workforce Commission.
What if a booster shot is eventually required under the federal mandate?
Currently, the federal vaccine mandate does not require employees to receive a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated. As federal guidelines and mandates change, the University will communicate how these changes affect students, faculty and staff. Vaccinated employees must wear a mask indoors whenever Dallas County has a high or substantial rate of transmission as defined by the Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
Yes. If you received your first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, you can schedule your second dose at the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center. You can schedule through the health center portal or by calling 214-768-2141. SMU does not currently offer the Moderna vaccine.
You are not required to take vacation/sick leave if you develop moderate symptoms from the vaccine and cannot come into work/class. Please work with your dean or manager to make up any lost assignments or classroom material missed during your absence.
SMU encourages you to schedule a time to get your vaccine as soon as you are eligible and can find one. You should notify your professor ahead of time and work with them to make up any lost work during your absence.
SMU encourages you to schedule a time to get your vaccine as soon as you are eligible and can find one. While you are not required to take vacation/sick leave to get your vaccine during working hours, you should notify your dean or manager if you miss time and also plan to make up any lost work.
Remember: Once you have received the vaccine, please remember to fill out the self-reporting tool – and keep it up to date if a second dose is required – on the Mustang Strong’s vaccine page. Your voluntary submission will help the University assess the quantity of vaccines SMU will request from the State of Texas for distribution when possible on our campus and may also help inform decisions about campus operational changes during the pandemic.
All three of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19. Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, particularly those at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Taking the vaccine is the best opportunity to keep our professors, students and staff healthy as we work to reduce transmission of the deadly virus. It’s also the quickest way to return our University to its regular operations.
“Safety is a top priority while federal partners work to make COVID-19 vaccines available. The new COVID-19 vaccines have been evaluated in tens of thousands of volunteers during clinical trials. The vaccines are only authorized for use if they are found to be safe.
Even though they found no safety issues during the clinical trials, CDC and other federal partners will continue to monitor the new vaccines. They watch out for serious side effects (or “adverse events”) using vaccine safety monitoring systems, like the new V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker app.
For the most up-to-date information, see the Vaccine Safety section of the CDC website.
SMU is strongly encouraging but not requiring our campus community to get the COVID-19 vaccination. The University is an approved provider to make it as easy as possible for our employees and students to get the vaccine at no cost to them through the Dr. Bob Smith Health Center.
SMU recognizes that some individuals may choose not to get the vaccine for religious, health or personal reasons, but we expect that many will take this important preventive step to protect themselves and others on campus and their families at home. With a robust vaccination offering, in accordance with state guidelines, SMU will help the universal effort to bolster immunity and limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“Yes. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, vaccine should be offered to you regardless of whether you already had COVID-19 infection. CDC is providing recommendations to federal, state, and local governments about who should be vaccinated first.
At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.
We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work.
Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.”
SMU employees’ spouses and dependents (as young as 12) are eligible to receive the vaccine on campus. As we follow state guidelines, the University will prioritize employees and students who are directly engaged in on-campus activities and then spouses and dependents of our faculty and staff.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) all agree that:
Pregnant and lactating women who otherwise meet criteria for vaccination should be offered access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
This should be a shared decision among a woman, her care partner(s) and medical provider(s), based on individual risk factors and recognizing a current lack of data about the vaccines’ safety.
ACOG and SMFM recommend that COVID-19 vaccines not be withheld from pregnant women who meet criteria for vaccination. Patients should be counseled as above and a shared decision model used. You can review their recommendations here:
While there have been reports of allergic-type reactions in a very small number of patients, the CDC says that people with allergies to certain foods, drugs, insects, latex and other common allergens can still get the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to injectables or other vaccines, be sure to discuss the COVID-19 vaccination with your doctor, who can evaluate you and assess your risk. The vaccine provider should observe you for 30 minutes rather than the routine 15 minutes after vaccination, and if you have an allergic reaction to the first shot, you may not receive the second.
The CDC says that at this time, anyone who has a severe allergy (such as anaphylaxis) to any of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccine ingredients should not get this vaccine.