COVID-19 Vaccine Exemption Requests

The university’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement is critical for the health of our community and a safe return to in-person university operations. Faculty, staff, postdoctoral/postgraduate trainees, and students may request exemptions from the requirement for medical, religious, or, in the case of faculty, staff and postdoctoral/postgraduate trainees, strongly held personal beliefs (effective through September 25, 2021).

Anyone requesting an exemption must access, complete and upload the request forms through the Yale Vaccine Portal (the portal) by August 1. Once completed and uploaded on the portal, requests are submitted to the university’s COVID-19 vaccine exemption review committees. 

Individuals who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 will be required to follow additional health and safety precautions not applicable to fully vaccinated individuals which may include but are not limited to:

  • Regular asymptomatic testing
  • Masking and social distancing
  • Daily health checks
  • Quarantine if identified as a close contact of a person who tests positive
  • Restrictions on university-sponsored travel, and required testing and/or quarantine following personal travel
  • Limitations of access to certain events, spaces, roles and activities

Medical Exemption Requests (Faculty, Staff, Postdoctoral/Postgraduate Trainees, and Students)

Faculty, staff, postdoctoral/postgraduate trainees, and students seeking a medical exemption must access, complete and upload the request form on the portal. The medical exemption request must include a signed form from a medical provider confirming the basis for the request. The university’s COVID-19 Vaccine Medical Exemption Review Committee will review the request and reach out to the requestor to schedule a conversation with a university representative. The purpose of the conversation is to review the request and provide additional information as may be needed.

The Medical Exemption Review Committee may require additional information to complete its review and the process may take approximately two weeks. Medical exemptions may be granted on a temporary basis and are subject to reassessment.

Reasons for a medical exemption include:

  • Documented history of severe allergic reaction to a component of each currently available COVID-19 vaccine
  • Documented history of severe or immediate-type hypersensitivity allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, and separate contraindication to other available formulations
  • Receiving immunosuppressive (weakens the immune system) treatment and advised by a medical provider to defer vaccination until a future date
  • Another medical condition where it is advised by a medical provider to forgo vaccination or to defer vaccination until a future date.

Examples of conditions that are NOT considered for a medical exemption include:

  • History of severe allergic reactions to foods, oral medications, latex, pets, insects, and environmental triggers
  • History of immunocompromising conditions where the vaccine may be less effective
  • Fear of needles
  • A history of vaccine side effects or general avoidance of vaccines.

Other considerations:

  • While COVID-19 vaccine is considered safe in pregnancy, persons who are pregnant or breastfeeding are encouraged to speak with their medical provider to discuss if it is appropriate to pursue a medical exemption request.
  • People who were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma or who were diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A history of COVID -19 infection or positive antibody screen is not considered a substitute for vaccination.

Religious Exemption Requests (Faculty, Staff, Postdoctoral/Postgraduate Trainees, and Students)

Faculty, staff, postdoctoral/postgraduate trainees, and students seeking a religious exemption must access, complete and submit an exemption request form through the portal. The university’s COVID-19 Religious and Strongly Held Personal Belief Exemption Review Committee will review the request and the Public Health Ambassador team will reach out to the requestor to schedule a conversation.

The purpose of this conversation is to review the exemption request and provide additional information as may be needed, not to assess religious beliefs, practices or observances.

This process may take approximately two weeks.

Individuals who receive a religious exemption have the opportunity to change their mind at any time and receive a COVID-19 vaccination free of charge through the Yale COVID-19 Vaccine Program.

Strongly Held Personal Belief Exemption Requests (Faculty, Staff and Postdoctoral/Postgraduate Trainees)

Effective September 25, the university is not accepting new exemption applications for strongly held personal beliefs.

Faculty, staff, or postdoctoral/postgraduate trainees seeking a strongly held personal belief exemption must access, complete and submit the exemption request form through the portal. The university’s COVID-19 Vaccine Strongly Held Personal Belief and Religious Exemption Review Committee will review the request and the Public Health Ambassador team will reach out to the requestor to schedule a conversation.

The purpose of this conversation is to review the exemption request and provide additional information as may be needed, not to assess the strongly held personal belief.

This process may take approximately two weeks.

Individuals who receive a strongly held personal belief exemption have the opportunity to change their mind at any time and receive a COVID-19 vaccination free of charge through the Yale COVID-19 Vaccine Program.

Updated September 23, 2021