Vaccines and Testing

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement

Becoming vaccinated against COVID-19 is the most important thing we as individuals can do to ensure our own safety and the safety of our community. The vaccines have proven to be safe and effective. We’ve consulted with our public health expert, Terri Rebmann, PhD, RN, CIC, FAPIC, and she is a strong proponent of vaccines given the positive impact they have had globally. 

SAIC requires COVID-19 vaccines for all students, faculty, and staff (including Central Administration staff working on campus) who will be on campus for any period of time beginning in the fall of 2021. This requirement is in compliance with Governor JB Pritzker’s mandate that all students and employees at higher education institutions in Illinois be vaccinated. Unvaccinated students, faculty, or staff, including those who received a medical or religious exemption, must submit to weekly testing in order to comply with the mandate. COVID-19 boosters are required beginning in the spring 2022 term.

Submitting Proof

To comply with Governor Pritzker’s mandate, only the following may serve as proof that you have received a COVID-19 vaccine:

  • A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 record card;
  • Documentation of vaccination from a health care provider; or
  • State immunization records.

International students should visit Health Services for more information.

COVID-19 Boosters

COVID-19 boosters are required beginning in the spring 2022 term for all vaccinated students, faculty, and staff, including Central Administration, who are eligible were required to receive COVID-19 boosters. You are eligible to receive a booster shot if any of the following apply:

  • Two months or more have passed since you received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine
  • Five months or more have passed since you received the second dose in a two-dose series of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
  • Five months or more have passed since you received the second dose in a two-dose series of the Moderna vaccine
  • Five months or more have passed since you received all of the recommended doses of a COVID-19 vaccination approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) but not the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Five months or more have passed since you received the second dose of any mix and match series of a COVID-19 vaccination approved by either the WHO or FDA
  • If you recently tested positive for COVID-19, you are eligible to receive the booster 10 days after your symptoms began or you tested positive. You must submit proof of receiving a booster within seven days of when you are eligible.

Medical and religious exemptions will continue to be honored.

Click here for details on how to submit your booster information. 

Accepted Vaccines

SAIC will accept any COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO). Here is a list of FDA-approved vaccines. For a list of WHO-approved vaccines, click here and scroll to “Footnotes.” 

Accessing a COVID-19 Vaccine

As the COVID-19 vaccine is currently widely available in the US, if you haven’t already started the vaccination process, please do so as soon as possible. Available to every Chicagoan, the city launched its Protect Chicago at Home initiative to provide in-home vaccinations on demand. Those who receive a vaccination through this program will receive a $50 gift card from Grubhub or a $25 Visa gift card. Here you’ll find more details.

Additionally, the COVID-19 vaccine is available at many locations near campus and throughout the city. You can make an appointment at Walgreens, Mariano’s, Jewel Osco, or via these websites:

Walgreens and other clinics are also offering walk-in vaccines for those who do not have an appointment. 

Additional Vaccination Requirements

Consistent with our existing practice, in addition to the COVID-19 vaccine, students will be required to have proof of immunization on file with Health Services for the following communicable diseases: measles (rubeola), mumps, rubella (German measles), diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis, and meningitis. Visit Health Services’ site for more information.


The expectation is that our campus will overwhelmingly consist of vaccinated individuals, greatly reducing the risk of infection for all.

If you’re a student: As is the case with all of our immunization requirements, medical and religious exemptions will be accommodated for the COVID-19 vaccine. Here is more information on how to submit a request for an exemption.

If you’re an employee: Exemptions will be accommodated for medical reasons and sincerely held religious beliefs. To request an exemption, click on the Exemption Forms & Instructions link on the SAIC COVID Vax Attestation page:

  • Log in to Self-Service
  • Click on Employee Self-Service
  • Click on SAIC COVID Vax Attestation

About the COVID-19 Vaccine

All Chicagoans aged 12 and older now qualify to receive a vaccine. According to the CDC, there are several benefits to getting your COVID-19 vaccine:

  • All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the US have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 can have serious, life-threatening complications, and there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you. Experts believe that getting a vaccine also helps keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.
  • Getting vaccinated will not only protect you, but may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • After you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, you may be able to start doing some things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic. For example, the Chicago Travel Advisory does not require fully vaccinated persons who have traveled domestically to quarantine if they are asymptomatic. A person is considered fully vaccinated when they are two weeks or more beyond the receipt of their second dose in a two-dose vaccine or two weeks or more beyond the receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine.

Additionally, if you are fully vaccinated and are in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you may not need to quarantine.

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International Student Guidance

We understand that not all students who are living abroad currently have access to an FDA- or WHO-approved vaccine. We are very interested in working with you to develop a plan that best meets your needs. SAIC staff member Younsoo Kim Flynn is available to work directly with you to help you become vaccinated before returning to campus. Younsoo can be reached at Students who need to obtain a vaccine in the US will not be allowed to live in their assigned room until they are fully vaccinated. We recommend that international students arrive in the US as early as their visa status permits. In the fall of 2021, we hosted two webinars for students on this subject. 

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Per Governor Pritzker’s mandate, all unvaccinated students and employees—even those with medical and religious exemptions—must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test at least once per week. SAIC has partnered with SNT Biotech and Medstar Laboratory to conduct COVID-19 testing on campus for students who are not fully vaccinated and have received a medical or religious exemption. The test is PCR and is self-administered.

Testing Location
MacLean Center
112 South Michigan Avenue, room 303

Testing Dates and Times
Testing is available every week during the following dates/times:

  • Mondays: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. CT (closed 1:00 to 1:30 p.m.)
  • Tuesdays: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CT (closed 11:00 to 11:30 a.m.)
  • Wednesdays: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. CT (closed 1:00 p.m. 1:30 p.m.)

We will be closed on Memorial Day (May 30) and in observance of Juneteenth (June 20).

Testing Procedure

  • Arrive at the MacLean Center, 112 South Michigan Avenue, room 303 during one of the testing times listed above.
  • Make sure to refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and/or brushing your teeth for at least one hour before your test begins. It is recommended that you stay well hydrated on the day of your test. 
  • Before or upon your first visit, sign up for an online portal with our testing provider and sign a form approving SAIC to receive your test results.
  • Swipe your ARTICard upon entering room 303.
  • SAIC COVID-19 testing staff will show you how to complete the saliva sample to complete your test, and once you complete your test on campus, you will be considered compliant with this weekly requirement.
  • Our on-campus testing is asymptomatic testing only. If you're feeling ill and/or display symptoms of COVID-19, you are to remain home and notify the Contact Tracing Team at (for SAIC staff, faculty, and students) or (for Central Administration and museum staff). They will inform you of any next steps. 

Test Results
SHIELD Illinois will email you when your test results are released each week, typically between 24 to 48 hours after taking your test. You can then visit the SHIELD Illinois secure portal to view your results. SAIC will also receive your results through a secure portal. If you test positive, you must self-isolate and immediately notify the Contact Tracing Team at (for SAIC staff, faculty, and students) or (for Central Administration and museum staff).

To protect the health and safety of our community, if you do not test by 3:00 p.m. CT on Wednesday of each week, you will not have access to campus starting on Thursday morning. If you are an employee, you will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence, during which you will not be permitted to use any earned and available PTO and/or Chicago Sick Time. You may regain access to campus after you test the following week. 

It will likely take one to two business days from when you test for you to receive access back to campus. For example, if you do not take your test by 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the following timeline will be in effect:

  • Beginning Thursday, 12:01 a.m. CT: You lose access to campus until you test again the following week.
  • Monday, 9:00 a.m.: You will be allowed access to the MacLean Center to take your COVID-19 test. You will be given access only to the MacLean Center and only to take the test. You must leave the building after you take the test.
  • By Wednesday, 9:00 a.m.: Your campus access will be restored.

If you provide proof of being fully vaccinated, you will no longer be required to submit weekly PCR tests.

For those not required to get weekly testing, click here for external COVID-19 testing options.