COVID-19 Vaccine Policy: FAQ

Harper HC Division

The Harper College Health Careers Division has a commitment to public health and our clinical agencies. As a proactive measure, Harper College Health Careers noted the increasing numbers of organizations requiring that students are vaccinated prior to coming to their sites. Therefore, the policy was enacted in early August to verify students’ vaccination status by the mid-point of the Fall 2021 semester. The policy is aligned with meeting the expectations of the health requirements for our students who are placed in partnering sites for clinical education. 

On August 26, IL Governor JB Pritzker announced vaccination requirements for individuals in high-risk settings. According to the announcement, all healthcare workers, including nursing home employees, all pre-k-12 teachers and staff, as well as higher education personnel and students will now be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

As a student delivering patient care representing one of the health career programs at Harper College, you will be expected to adhere to the policies of the Division. Each day, new announcements are made regarding the increasing number of healthcare organizations that are requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for employees and affiliates, as well as students and faculty coming to the site. Additionally, the IL Governor’s recent announcement regarding vaccines for individuals in high-risk settings specifically identifies healthcare workers and higher education students as required to get the vaccine.

Aligned with contractual partnerships with agencies for clinical education, the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for Harper Health Career students providing patient care states that you will need to receive full vaccination by October 8, 2021. Unvaccinated students should begin their vaccine series no later than September 1. Under the policy, all Harper College Health Career students providing patient care will be expected to receive at least one vaccine by the beginning of September, with the follow up vaccine prior to October 8. 2021.

As stated in the policy, students must receive the last dose of the vaccine series (one shot for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, two shots for the Pfizer or Moderna series) no later than October 8, 2021. Students must upload proof of vaccination in the appropriate program tracking system. Failure to provide documentation of a completed vaccine series by October 8, 2021, will result in student dismissal from clinical courses. Students can obtain Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations free of charge at the NCH Outpatient Care Center located on the Harper campus.  For more information visit the site below: https://www.harpercollege.edu/advisory/vaccine.php.

Medical and religious exemptions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Documents for medical and religious exemptions are accessible on the Harper College website.  Students who are seeking exemptions are recommended to submit the required paperwork as soon as possible for consideration. There will be a panel of faculty and healthcare professionals reviewing the applications; students will receive communication on the decision regarding their application or will receive a request for more information within 10 days of submitting the application.  Adequate documentation to evaluate the application is recommended upon initial submission as not to prolong consideration and final decision.

A panel of faculty and healthcare professionals will review submitted applications on a weekly basis. Students will receive communication on the decision regarding their application or will receive a request for more information within 10 days of submitting the application.  If the exemption is granted by Harper, students should anticipate that additional paperwork will be requested by the assigned clinical agency for each clinical course per each individual agency’s policy. Agency partners will expect a similar exemption review process prior to allowing students to come to the site for clinical education. While an exemption may be granted by Harper College, clinical sites reserve the right to deny students a clinical rotation based on vaccination status. According to the Governor’s recent announcement, students who are approved for a medical or religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine will be required to get tested for COVID-19 at least weekly. If the application for exemption is denied, students may appeal the decision made by the ERP by pursuing the Student Non-Academic Complaint Process.

Without an approved exemption, regular COVID-19 tests instead of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine are not an option according to the Division’s policy and our agreements with partnering agencies.

In IL, healthcare workers seeking a religious waiver for vaccines must have a physician sign the bottom of the state-issued exemption form.  Since you are considered an adult because you are older than 18 years of age, you will need to take responsibility for the vaccine waiver form as it may be considered a HIPAA violation for Harper College to communicate with a parent about your health and vaccination status. You may want to discuss your career goals and your future plans with your family support system given the role of vaccines in clinical practice and public health.  Harper College respects the right to religious freedom and recognizes that all our clinical sites require that students have documented vaccination status as part of their health requirements to attend clinical educational experiences. 

Each semester there are limited numbers of clinical spots for students and there may be a possibility that we cannot place a student in a clinical agency if that person is not vaccinated per the agency's policy.  Therefore, there may be a future situation that will not allow for timely clinical placement if you choose to not be vaccinated according to the timeline in the policy. Medical and religious exemptions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

If the exemption is granted by Harper, students should anticipate that additional paperwork will be requested by the assigned clinical agency for each clinical course per each individual agency’s policy. Agency partners will expect a similar exemption review process prior to allowing students to come to the site for clinical education. While an exemption may be granted by Harper College, clinical sites reserve the right to deny students a clinical rotation based on vaccination status. If your request for exemption is delayed or denied by the clinical site, we may have to defer your enrollment in, and completion of, your clinical course.

If you are in a program within the Harper Health Careers Division, you will need to get the COVID-19 vaccine to attend your clinical courses. For example, all admissions to the nursing programs moving forward will have mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirements just like the flu, MMR and Hep B vaccines.

On August 26, 2021, the Governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker announced COVID-19 vaccination requirements for individuals in high-risk settings, which include all healthcare workers, all pre-k-12 teachers and staff, as well as higher education personnel and students. The Health Careers Division established a policy over the Summer and communicated COVID-19 vaccination requirements to health career students providing patient care in the beginning of August 2021.

The COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer is approved by the FDA as of August 23, 2021. The Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved by the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization. Colleges, and specifically public colleges, can mandate the COVID-19 vaccine as seen in some of the other schools in our area.

The Pfizer vaccine is fully approved by the FDA. Moderna has also submitted paperwork for full NDA approval to the FDA.  Please note that the Emergency Use Authorization is considered a form of FDA approval (falls under the IND application) even though it is not yet approved per the New Drug Application (NDA) pathway.  More information about FDA approvals for new medications and various types of approvals can be found here:

https://www.fda.gov/drugs/types-applications/investigational-new-drug-ind-application

The COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer is approved by the FDA as of August 23, 2021. There are also two COVID-19 vaccines that are approved by the FDA, for Emergency Use Authorization, which are made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The Moderna vaccine is currently being reviewed by the FDA for full New Drug Application (NDA) approval, which means that there is enough data from clinical trials for review and consideration beyond the experimental stage. 

While it is within your right to choose what is best for yourself, it is important to be well informed and knowledgeable about the issue and how it may impact your future career choices. This policy may influence your decision about applying to or continuing in your program of choice. Based on the Governor’s announcement, it is recommended that you closely follow the updates regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies at area hospitals as there are increasing numbers of agencies and schools that may have similar requirements in the next few months.

Moving forward, all students admitted to programs in the Health Careers Division, will have mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirements just like the flu, MMR and Hep B vaccines. Medical and religious exemptions are being considered on a case-by-case basis.

As stated in the policy, we have contractual relationships with healthcare facilities that our students meet their expectations.  As an increasing number of partnering healthcare organizations are requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, we identified the need to do so as well.  Students enrolled in our programs may apply for exemptions as stated in the policy, with the consideration that clinical coursework may be delayed due to the time at which the request for exemption is received, the availability of clinical sites, and other factors.  Other vaccinations (like Hep B, MMR, Flu) are included in the health requirements for Harper College Health Career students once admitted to a program of study, and prior to starting clinical education at our partner agencies.  Admission decisions are not made based on these criteria; full admission information and how applications are considered for Harper College’s Health Career programs can be found on the Harper College website.

 

Last Updated: 8/27/21