Vaccination Policy Information 

Updated on June 24, 2021

Student-Specific Information | Faculty and Staff-Specific Information

Who will be required to be vaccinated when the 2021–2022 academic year begins in the fall?

As announced on April 16, the College will require all members of the campus community— students, faculty, and staff (including casual staff)—to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

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 return to normal operation in the fall and to safeguard the health and safety of our community, including by reducing the likelihood of “breakthrough infections” and protecting those in our community who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Are there exemptions from this requirement?
Students may request an exemption from the vaccination requirement for medical reasons associated with a health condition. Faculty and staff may request an exemption for medical reasons associated with a health condition or for sincerely held religious beliefs. There is no religious exemption from vaccination available to students.

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.

When are the deadlines for being fully vaccinated?
The deadline for students is Friday, August 13. Faculty and staff will need to be fully vaccinated by Tuesday, August 24 (first-year student arrival day).

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


In order to meet the vaccination requirement, you must receive a COVID-19 vaccination authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing (WHO/EUL).

FDA-Authorized:

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

WHO/EUL-Authorized:

  • AstraZeneca/Oxford (SK-BIO and Covashield)
  • Sinopharm (BBIBP-CorV)
  • Sinovac (CoronaVac)

Which vaccine should I get?

It is up to you to decide which of the FDA- or WHO/EUL-authorized vaccines you would like to receive. Specific information about each of the vaccines authorized in the United States is available on the CDC website.

If I am a STUDENT, when will I have to begin the vaccination process to meet the August 13 deadline?
To meet Bowdoin’s August 13 deadline for students, an initial dose of FDA-approved vaccines will have to be received by:

  • July 2: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (two doses, four weeks apart)
  • July 9: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (two doses, three weeks apart)
  • July 30: Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (a single dose)

If I am a member of the FACULTY or STAFF, when will I have to begin the vaccination process to meet the August 24 deadline?
To meet Bowdoin’s August 24 deadline for faculty and staff, an initial dose of FDA-approved vaccines 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. However, the CDC recommends that if you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait ninety (90) days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Employees unable to meet Bowdoin’s vaccine deadline for this reason should contact Mary Cote in HR. Students unable to meet Bowdoin’s vaccine deadline for this reason should contact the health center.

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:

Will the College require booster shots?

The College will decide about a booster shot requirement when and if public health officials recommend boosters.



Will visitors to campus have to prove they have been vaccinated?

Campus grounds will remain open to the public. Campus events that are open to the public will require advance ticketing and all guests will be required to provide evidence of being fully vaccinated; this includes outdoor activities and events. Except for these events, access to campus buildings will be restricted to Bowdoin community members.

Student-Specific Information

When do students need to be fully vaccinated?
All students must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Friday, August 13.

When will I have to begin the vaccination process to meet the August 13 deadline for students?
To meet Bowdoin’s August 13 deadline for students, an initial dose of FDA-approved vaccines will have to be received by:

  • July 2: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (two doses, four weeks apart)
  • July 9: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (two doses, three weeks apart)
  • July 30: Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine (a single dose)

What happens if an international student is unable to obtain an approved vaccine?
The College will work individually with any international students who may have difficulty obtaining vaccinations.

Where can I obtain additional information about the vaccination requirement for international students?
Additional information is available in the international student vaccination requirement FAQ.

Will there be any exemptions from the vaccination requirement?

Students may request exemptions from the vaccination requirement for medical reasons associated with a health condition. There is no religious exemption from vaccination available to students.

If I have an exemption and am not vaccinated, what can/can’t I participate in?

Students granted a medical exemption will likely be required to follow additional health and safety protocols, including the use of face coverings in certain indoor spaces and regular COVID-19 testing.

How do I prove I have been vaccinated?

Students must upload their vaccine records to the Bowdoin Health Services portal no later than Friday, August 13. 

What kind of immunization documentation will you accept? 
We will accept a copy of the student’s COVID 19 vaccination card or an official document from the student’s health care provider listing their immunizations. Official documents include records from their local or state health department or other provider (hospital immunization clinic, pharmacy clinic, walk-in care setting). Duplication of these records is not required. If we have any questions about vaccination documentation submitted by a student, we will reach out to the student directly.

What happens if I refuse to be vaccinated? 


We are requiring that all Bowdoin students 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. Students who are not approved for a medical exemption will not be able to enroll in the fall. There will be no remote study option next year. If students have questions about the vaccination requirement, please submit them via email here. We will also be building out additional questions and answers to the extent needed.

Faculty and Staff-Specific Information

When do faculty and staff need to be fully vaccinated?

In order to begin the fall semester with a fully vaccinated community, all faculty and staff, including casual staff, must be fully vaccinated by Tuesday, August 24 (first-year student arrival day).

When will I have to begin the vaccination process to meet the August 24 deadline for FACULTY AND STAFF?
To meet Bowdoin’s August 24 deadline for faculty and staff, an initial dose of FDA-approved vaccines 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)

Will there be any faculty and staff exemptions from the vaccination requirement?

Faculty and staff may request exemptions from the vaccination requirement for medical reasons associated with a health condition or for sincerely held religious beliefs.

How do I apply for an exemption?

  • Medical: Faculty and staff requesting a medical exemption must present to Mary Cote in human resources (HR)(email: mcote@bowdoin.edu, phone: 207-725-3033) documentation from their health care provider of a medical condition that is in conflict with the vaccination requirement.
  • Religious: Faculty and staff requesting an exemption based on a sincerely held religious belief that precludes them from receiving the vaccine must submit a request in writing for this exemption to Mary Cote in HR (email: mcote@bowdoin.edu, phone: 207-725-3033), Note: no exemption will be made based on an employee’s philosophical or political objection to receiving the vaccine.

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 or here on the HR website. Those needing assistance with uploading their vaccination information may seek help in HR (216 Maine Street, third floor).

What should I do if I have not been vaccinated and do not have an approved exemption?
Unvaccinated faculty and staff who have not applied for a medical or religious exemption must notify HR (mcote@bowdoin.edu) of their plans by Thursday, July 15.

What happens if I refuse to be vaccinated?
Faculty and staff who are not fully vaccinated by August 24 and do not qualify for a medical or religious exemption will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence until further notice. Based on operational needs, there is no guarantee that the position will still be open if the employee later completes the vaccination process.

What happens to my benefits if I am placed on an unpaid leave of absence?
Employees may elect to maintain health, dental, and vision while on unpaid leave. It is the responsibility of the employee to make arrangements with HR to pay their portion of benefit premiums on a monthly basis. If the unpaid leave extends for a period of longer than six months, the employee becomes responsible for the full cost of the benefits they elect to continue for an additional six months. For information on this and other benefit changes while on unpaid leave, employees should contact HR (mcote@bowdoin.edu).

May I request to work remotely so that I don’t need to be vaccinated?
No, remote work is not an alternative to vaccination.

If I am approved for an exemption from the vaccination requirement, am I expected to work on campus?
Yes. Faculty and staff granted medical or religious exemptions will be expected to work on campus and required to follow additional health and safety protocols, which are likely to include the use of face coverings indoors, regular COVID-19 testing, and, to protect themselves and others, possible changes in work schedules and procedures. HR will, as needed, engage with employees granted medical exemptions to determine what reasonable workplace accommodations may be appropriate.

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.

What do I do if I have specific health concerns regarding the vaccines?
Consult with your health care provider.

Do faculty who are on sabbatical for the fall semester need to be vaccinated?
Generally, no. But if the faculty member plans to be inside campus buildings while on sabbatical, then a vaccination is required.