I write to update you on our plans and ongoing preparation to return to campus for the fall 2021 semester. St. John’s is actively planning and preparing to welcome back all members of the University community to our New York metropolitan campuses. The expanded availability of the COVID-19 vaccine enables St. John’s to take the necessary steps to protect the health of our academic community, and, to move toward a return to our pre-pandemic business operations as a vibrant living and learning institution.
As of Monday, April 19, the COVID-19 vaccine is available nationwide to anyone aged 16 and over. As such, St. John’s will require all students to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, and, to provide proof of vaccination before returning to campus for the fall semester. (Note: Exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement will be made for students with proof of a documented medical condition or due to religious beliefs.) Students enrolled in fully online degree programs (see Find a Program | St. John's University), defined as students not physically on-campus for the duration of the degree, do not need to provide proof of vaccination. This does not include students taking only some of their courses online.
Any vaccine authorized for use in the U.S. (currently Pfizer and Moderna; the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been temporarily suspended) will be accepted. Note: If you have already received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or, a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you have met the requirement for vaccination. We are reviewing the guidelines for international students who may have received other vaccines (e.g. AstraZeneca) and will provide updated guidance to those students at a later date.
Working with the New York State Department of Health, St. John’s has received confirmation that we will receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. The University will make those doses available to students first. The vaccine will be distributed free of charge. Additional information about scheduling an appointment to receive a vaccine will be sent to students this week.
In addition, the New York City Department of Health has indicated that vaccination appointments are available at locations across New York City offering both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. To make vaccination appointments, please visit https://vaccinefinder.nyc.gov/ or call 1-877-VAX-4NYC.
Because proof of vaccination will be required for all students planning to attend St. John’s this fall, I want to personally encourage you to get vaccinated at your earliest convenience. Many medical experts have indicated that the best vaccine is the one that you can access as soon as possible. I have already been vaccinated and I am grateful for the experience. The ongoing risk of serious health consequences for anyone who contracts COVID-19, along with the greater public health threat, are but two strong reasons in favor of getting vaccinated. The well-being and safety of you—our students, faculty, administrators, and staff—is always the highest priority of St. John's, and, is my foremost daily prayer for you all.
As I walk the campus, I continue to be proud of the way the St. John’s family has come together throughout this ongoing pandemic. Adherence to campus safety protocols and a shared spirit of compliance and cooperation is evident. Thus far, we have been able to maintain in-person operations with a manageable number of COVID-19 cases on campus during the spring 2021 semester. We must persist in our mutual commitment to campus health if we are to get past this pandemic. Like you, I look forward to a full return to campus life. I welcome more in-person interactions, events, and activities that are essential to and hallmarks of the St. John's experience.
Additional communications with details on processes and protocols for the fall 2021 semester will be shared soon. In the meantime, let us continue to pray that God will keep our community safe and bless us as we plan for the new post-COVID St. John’s University.