Vaccination Requirement for Faculty and Staff—FAQ

Why is Bowdoin requiring vaccinations for COVID-19?
Bowdoin is requiring students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to protect the health and safety of our community, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. There are a number of benefits to this vaccination requirement, including:

  • it is the best approach for the College to take from a larger, public health perspective;
  • it creates a safer, more secure environment for Bowdoin community members by drastically reducing the potential for COVID-19 outbreaks on campus, which facilitates the resumption of a more normal semester;
  • it may mitigate some of the mental health effects of pandemic student isolation;
  • it helps to alleviate anxiety and discomfort for students, faculty, and staff who are fearful of COVID-19;
  • it helps provide clarity about the upcoming academic year;
  • it reduces the foreseeable impact of local community COVID-19 spread; and
  • it provides clear signals to prospective and admitted students and their parents about the importance of safety and health at Bowdoin.

Who is included in the vaccination requirement?
All members of the campus community—students, faculty, and staff—will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Will visitors to campus have to prove they have been vaccinated?
Campus events that are open to the public will require advance ticketing and an attestation of full vaccination prior to issuance of a ticket. Otherwise, access to campus buildings will be restricted to Bowdoin community members.

Which COVID-19 vaccines qualify to meet the vaccination requirement?

Currently, in order to meet the vaccination requirement, you must receive one of the following vaccines:

  • Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
  • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine 

When do faculty and staff need to be fully vaccinated?
In order to begin the fall semester with a fully vaccinated community, we are requiring all faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Tuesday, August 24, which is the date first-year students arrive on campus.

What does it mean to be “fully” vaccinated?
Public health officials consider an individual to be fully vaccinated two weeks after their final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, so the dates vary depending on the vaccine. To meet Bowdoin’s August 24 deadline for faculty and staff, an initial dose of vaccine will have to be received by:

  • July 13: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (two doses, four weeks apart)
  • July 20: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (two doses, three weeks apart)
  • August 10: Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (a single dose)

Do I need to be vaccinated if I have already had COVID-19?
Yes. Anyone who previously had COVID-19 will still be required to be vaccinated.

What happens if I refuse to be vaccinated?

We are requiring that all Bowdoin students, faculty, and staff be vaccinated prior to the fall semester in order to protect the health and safety of the campus and Brunswick communities, and we are very hopeful that everyone will do so. If faculty and staff have any questions or concerns about the vaccination requirement they should contact Mary Cote (, (207) 725-3033) or Cindy Bessmer (, (207) 725-3911).

Will the College be requiring other vaccinations for faculty and staff?
No. The only vaccination that the College is requiring of faculty and staff is the COVID-19 vaccine.

Will there be any exemptions to the vaccination requirement?
There will be two permitted exemptions to the College’s vaccination requirement:

  • Medical: A medical exemption is available for students, faculty, and staff who present documentation of a valid medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination. In order to qualify for a medical exemption, faculty and staff must provide Mary Cote in human resources (email:, phone: (207) 725-3033) with medical documentation from their doctor.
  • Religious: Pursuant to federal law, a religious exemption will be made for faculty and staff only who hold a sincere religious belief that is contrary to the vaccination requirement. Employees can submit a request in writing for this exemption to Mary Cote in human resources (email:, phone: (207) 725-3033).

What if I am pregnant or may become pregnant or am breastfeeding?
If you are pregnant or may become pregnant or are breastfeeding you should contact your medical provider to determine if COVID-19 vaccination is medically advisable.

What if I don’t believe the vaccines are safe?
There is a significant amount of information available on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Here are links to some of this information:

Comparing the COVID-19 Vaccines: How Are They Different? – Yale Medicine
COVID-19 vaccines: Get the facts – Mayo Clinic
COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Specific Groups – US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe? – Johns Hopkins Medicine
Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines – US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines – World Health Organization
Vaccine Safety – US Department of Health and Human Services
Wondering about COVID-19 Vaccines if you’re pregnant or considering pregnancy? – Harvard Medical School

Which vaccine should I get?
It is up to you to decide which of the three vaccines that currently qualify you would like to receive. Specific information about each of the approved vaccines is available on the CDC website.

I have been unable to get a vaccination appointment. Is the College prepared to help me get vaccinated?
While the College cannot make vaccination appointments for faculty and staff, we can offer guidance for those having difficulty securing one. Please contact Megan Hart in the treasurer’s office for help.

How do I prove I have been vaccinated?
Faculty and staff must enter their vaccination information and upload a photo of their vaccination card in Workday. Instructions for completing this step can be found on the home page in Workday.

Will the College require booster shots if they become available?
The College will make a decision about requiring booster shots when and if they become available.