Students, faculty and staff members seeking a medical or religious exemption to the University of Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement may submit a request through Wolverine Access.

The university is providing limited exemptions for medical or religious reasons. An online request form asks, among other questions, that respondents attest that the information they are providing is true and accurate.

U-M community members can also apply for a temporary postponement (formerly known as a deferral) if they are unable to obtain a vaccine recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization in their hometown or country of origin. Those requesting a temporary postponement agree to immediately schedule a COVID-19 vaccination upon arrival to campus.

“Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination is a requirement to live, learn and work at the University of Michigan,” said Robert Ernst, associate vice president of student life and director of Campus COVID Response. “In unusual circumstances, individuals have a legitimate medical concern or deeply held religious beliefs that qualify them to be exempt from this community standard, but our hope is that requests for exemptions are minimal.

“The vaccine is safe, it’s effective and it remains the best tool in preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.”

The universitywide vaccine requirement, which applies to all three campuses and Michigan Medicine, was announced July 30 in an email to the campus community.  All students, faculty and staff, including temporary employees and those working and studying remotely, must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit their vaccination information by Aug. 30.  For employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement, the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement will apply.

Requesting an exemption

Those requesting a medical exemption must provide an explanation of the medical conditions that would make it unsafe to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, such as a documented history of a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine. The request must include documentation from a health care provider in support of the request. Any request without documentation will be declined.

Those seeking a religious exemption are asked to explain why their “sincerely held religious belief” precludes them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. While documentation is not required, the university is asking those requesting this exemption to include any supporting documentation that is relevant to the request, such as an additional written statement or written information provided by a religious or spiritual leader.

Exemption requests will be reviewed by designated U-M staff members from a number of units, including University Health Service, Student Life, Human Resources and Occupational Health Services, as well as representatives from all three campuses and the health system.

Individuals approved for an exemption will be required to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing and adhere to the university’s face-covering policy, which currently requires masks indoors for unvaccinated individuals. Those whose requests are declined are required to follow the vaccination policy or be subject to administrative consequences, accountability actions and disciplinary procedures, which may include separation from the university.

Requesting a temporary postponement

Students, faculty and staff requesting a temporary postponement of the vaccination requirement must explain why they are making the request, where they are located, whether they have received a vaccine that is not authorized by the FDA or WHO, and their plan for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

If the request is approved, the individual will be required to arrive on campus with documentation of a negative COVID-19 test within the prior three days, begin the COVID-19 vaccination process immediately, participate in weekly COVID-19 testing until they are fully vaccinated and follow the university’s masking policy.

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