Vaccination FAQ

Is Iowa State requiring COVID-19 vaccination?

Iowa State strongly encourages students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but it is not a requirement. The Iowa Board of Regents stated April 14 that the Regents universities will continue to strongly encourage members of campus to get vaccinated, but will not mandate vaccinations for any student or employee for the 2021-22 academic year. The Regents further stated that the three universities will continue to make vaccinations available and encourage people to get vaccinated, but they will not be required.

What guidance on vaccines is Iowa State following?

Besides the guidance received from the Regents, Iowa State follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Iowa Department of Public Health guidance on COVID-19 vaccination. While vaccination is not mandatory, the university stresses that vaccines will help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Immunization is a crucial step in reducing COVID-19-related illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths, and hastening a return to pre-pandemic conditions on campus, in Ames and everywhere else.

Can faculty and staff require their students or employees to be vaccinated?

No. Vaccination also cannot be required for participation in courses, workplaces, research sites, workshops, seminars and other university activities.

Can university supervisors ask their employees about their vaccination status?

No. While the university has the authority to ask employees about their vaccination status, individual supervisors should not inquire about their employees’ vaccination status without direction from senior leadership.

Will students living in the residence halls be asked if they’re vaccinated?

No. The Department of Residence will not ask about the COVID-19 vaccination status of students who choose to live on campus.

Could there be special circumstances that may require a vaccination?

In the future, there may be specific times when a COVID-19 vaccination would be needed in order to participate in certain programs; for example, if a host country would require it as part of international travel.

Can I use COVID-19 sick leave if I experience side effects after receiving the vaccine?

No. Employees should use regular sick leave if they need to take time off because of side effects or for travel to receive the vaccine. Employees should only use COVID-19 sick leave for COVID-related reasons including illness, isolation, and/or quarantine for yourself and family members.

What are the main side effects and what should I expect after receiving the vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Common side effects are pain, redness and swelling on the arm where you got the shot. You may also feel tired or have muscle pain, a headache, chills, fever or nausea. You can take ibuprofen or aspirin to relieve post-vaccination side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally.

Call your medical provider or Thielen Student Health Center if the redness or tenderness gets worse after 24 hours, or if side effects do not go away after a few days.

Can I get my first and second doses from different medical providers (for example, first dose from ISU and second dose from my doctor)?

Although It is most convenient for the patient to receive both doses from the same medical provider, the Iowa Department of Public Health recently advised that it is possible to receive your doses from different providers. It is important to receive both doses to build maximum immunity. Vaccine brands and supply vary between providers, please verify that they are able to provide the correct brand and dose when making an appointment.

Do I still need to wear a face covering, maintain physical distancing, etc., after receiving the vaccine?

The CDC released new guidelines on March 8, 2021, for people who are fully vaccinated. People are considered fully vaccinated at least two weeks after their second Pfizer or Moderna dose or at least two weeks after their single Johnson & Johnson shot. The new guidelines allow those people to:

  • Gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
  • Gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of those people have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

The new CDC guidelines also specify that fully vaccinated people don't need to quarantine or get tested if they've been around someone who has COVID-19 unless they have symptoms.

However, safety protocols are still to be followed in public settings. Fully vaccinated people should still continue to mask, maintain physical distance, practice hand hygiene, avoid medium or larger gatherings and, if possible, wear eye protection when indoors. The COVID-19 vaccine is not 100% effective and not everyone will be vaccinated for a while. In addition, some people will choose not to be vaccinated.

How long is the vaccine effective? Will I have to get vaccinated for COVID every year like the flu?

Coronavirus vaccines are still so new that more time is needed to study how long immunity lasts. Studies currently available show that people who were vaccinated had a very strong immunity to COVID-19. It looks like immunity will last a while, but researchers need to follow immune levels over time. At this point, we're not sure if immunity will last a year or 10 years, or if there will be a need for a booster shot at some point.

If I already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I need to get the vaccine?

Yes. You should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. Experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible -- although rare -- that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

How will I be notified when I am able to get the vaccine?

You will receive an email when you are eligible to receive the vaccine. The email will detail how to schedule your appointment through an online scheduling portal.  Appointments will be required and will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.

Where will the vaccine clinics be held?

Vaccines will be administered at State Gym. Please use the dedicated entrance on the south side of the building.

Do I have to wait 15 minutes after receiving the vaccination?

Yes. The CDC recommends patients who have recently received the vaccine be observed for a minimum of 15 minutes post-vaccination.

What are common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Injection site pain, redness and swelling, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and nausea.

What should I do if I experience side effects?

Side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection against COVID-19. Side effects normally subside within seven (7) days of receiving the vaccine. If they persist, contact your healthcare provider. If your side effects become severe, seek care immediately by calling 911 or going to an urgent care provider.

When am I fully vaccinated?

Full immunization from the COVID-19 vaccine is two full weeks after your second (final) dose.

What is V-Safe and do I have to sign up for it?

V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that helps monitor side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. It also will send a reminder when you are due for your second dose.

What are mRNA vaccines?

Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are a new type of vaccine that work by triggering the immune system to recognize a pathogen -- in this case, COVID-19. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized by the FDA for emergency use in the US.

Can an mRNA vaccine infect me with COVID-19?

No, mRNA vaccines do not use live COVID-19 virus, and therefore cannot infect someone with COVID-19.

Do mRNA vaccines alter DNA?

No, mRNA vaccines cannot and do not interact with a person’s DNA, as they are unable to enter the nucleus of the cell, or the area where DNA is kept.

Will the vaccine cause me to test positive for COVID-19?

No, COVID-19 tests do not recognize the vaccine as positive. If you have tested positive following vaccination, it is NOT a false positive caused by the vaccine.

Who should receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Who should not receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

Individuals who have had a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine. Individuals who have had a serious allergic reaction to an ingredient in the vaccine. Individuals currently ill with COVID-19 symptoms.


Updated 5.4.2021