Vice-Chancellor Brigety sent the letter below to the campus community on Aug. 26, 2021.
August 26, 2021
Dear University Community,
I am so happy to see our campus full and energized as classes began this week. The University has continued to express that the key to ending this pandemic is for as many people as possible to get vaccinated. I am very pleased to share that 90% of our students have done so. Two-thirds of our faculty and staff have also uploaded their vaccination documentation.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week gave its first full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, declaring it a milestone toward “altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.” Accordingly, the next element of our own effort to create a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff is a University requirement for all students, faculty, and staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. This decision has been made in consultation with the University’s Public Health Office and follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the recommendation of the American College Health Association.
Our campus-wide COVID-19 vaccination requirement goes into full effect on Oct. 5, 2021. By that date, all students, faculty, and staff must have received either both shots of a two-dose regimen (for Pfizer and Moderna) or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Exceptions will be made for legitimate medical and religious reasons; if you are in either category be sure to file your request by Sept. 8 to ensure it can be reviewed promptly. Failure to provide proof of vaccination status or receive an approved exemption by Oct. 5 will result in a requirement to leave campus for students, and will affect employment status for employees. Specific details will be sent separately to individuals who may not have met the vaccination requirement.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the winter of 2020, Sewanee has remained committed to making the decisions necessary to protect the health and safety of the campus community. The spread of the delta variant—which is markedly more transmissible than earlier strains of the COVID-19 virus—makes vaccinations necessary to ensure a successful semester and a full slate of activities on campus this fall.
Ample evidence worldwide has demonstrated that the three vaccines available in the United States are safe and effective. Vaccination is the best defense against serious forms of COVID-19 across all approved age groups, and also is effective against the delta variant, which holds particular danger for young people who are unvaccinated and socially active.
The University urges each of you who has not yet been vaccinated to do so at your earliest opportunity to help protect yourself, your peers and colleagues, and your loved ones. Walgreens staff will be on campus early next month to offer vaccinations, and vaccinations are available to students at any time by making an appointment with University Health Service. The Public Health Office and UHS are available to help answer your questions or concerns, and to help members of our community find vaccinations. You can also find a vaccination location at www.vaccines.gov.
Please be aware that if in the future the FDA authorizes and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends a booster dose, the University will very likely require the vaccine booster shot.
We are grateful for your continued cooperation and personal commitment to help keep one another as safe as possible during this ongoing pandemic. Thank you for all that you do to help the University navigate these difficult days successfully.
Reuben E. Brigety II, Ph.D.
U.S. Ambassador (ret.)
Vice-Chancellor and President