Additional Vaccine Information for Students Arriving from Outside of the United States for Fall 2021

June 16, 2021


Dear Students, 

As a reminder, GW requires all students who will be in-person during the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated with a U.S. FDA- or World Health Organization-approved COVID-19 vaccine. This includes all individuals who will be in GW-operated or -owned buildings daily or intermittently during the 2021-2022 academic year. 

Fully vaccinated means that you have completed the full dosage of a COVID-19 vaccine and 14 days have passed. If you have already received your vaccine, please upload your documentation to the medical portal as soon as possible before Aug. 1. Instructions for this process are available here.

We realize that some of you are not able to receive the vaccine in your home country. Also, for some, your travel to GW may be impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

In recognition of some of these noted barriers, we pledge to work with you to help you complete the necessary vaccine requirements that will help keep you and other members of our community healthy and safe.  

To help you understand what will be expected of you this fall in regards to this requirement, please read below:


Thank you to those of you who have already submitted your documentation demonstrating that you have received a vaccine or are requesting a medical or religious exemption.  Please understand that medical professionals are reviewing submissions manually and it may take up to two weeks for your submission to be verified.   


If you are not able to be fully vaccinated before your arrival to campus because you cannot receive the vaccine in your home country or can only receive one dose of a two-dose vaccine, you should email the Colonial Health Center at [email protected] to request a temporary exemption. Until you are fully vaccinated, you will need to quarantine following travel, take COVID-19 tests weekly and monitor your symptoms daily. You will also be required to wear a mask indoors.


If you are fully vaccinated and your submission has been verified prior to your arrival, no quarantine will be required. 

If you are unvaccinated, follow the directions below based on your living situation: 

Undergraduate students living in the residence halls: Upon your arrival to campus, you will be required to quarantine in your room for up to 6 days until you receive two negative COVID-19 tests from our on-campus testing facility. Closer to your arrival date, you will receive information from our Campus COVID-19 Support Team (CCST) on how to schedule your COVID tests. The first will be either the day you arrive or the next day, if you arrive after hours.The second will be 3-5 days after the first. Once a campus medical professional has reviewed and verified two negative tests, they will release you from quarantine. While you are in quarantine you will be expected to remain in your room. You can leave your room to pick up food and get your COVID tests at the on-campus COVID testing center. You will not be allowed to participate in any in-person student programming, activities, or classes until you are released from quarantine.  

Students living off-campus: We encourage you to self-quarantine for 7-10 days upon your arrival to the United States and monitor for symptoms. If you experience any COVID symptoms, please call the Colonial Health Center at 202-994-5300. Your phone call will be answered 24/7 by a clinician. You will be evaluated by phone and provided treatment or a referral for next steps. You will not be allowed to participate in any in-person student programming, activities, or classes until you have completed your self-quarantine.  


You have two options to receive your vaccine after you arrive in the United States:

At the GW COVID testing center:  GW has doses of the Pfizer vaccine available at our on-campus COVID testing center. Currently appointments are not necessary, however that may change as it gets closer to the start of the academic year. If hours or appointments change, that will be communicated. You can arrange to receive your first dose of the vaccine at the testing center at the same time you receive your second COVID test during your quarantine period. When you receive your first dose of the vaccine, the testing center will help you schedule your second dose. 

At a local pharmacy: After you have been released from campus quarantine or concluded your self-quarantine off-campus, you can schedule a vaccine appointment at many of the local pharmacies around the Foggy Bottom/Mount Vernon area, such as the CVS at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. Click here to view the District of Columbia’s list of vaccination sites.

Please upload your completed vaccine card after completing your single dose (Johnson & Johnson) or your second dose (Moderna or Pfizer). A medical professional will review and verify your vaccine information. Once you are considered to be fully vaccinated (14 days have passed since your last dose), the Colonial Health Center will update your records to show that you are in compliance with this university policy.  


If you are vaccinated: All GW community members who are fully vaccinated will be required to participate in monthly surveillance testing through the GW COVID testing center. Your first COVID test should be completed within 3-5 days of your arrival to campus. More information about how to schedule your COVID tests will be provided closer to your arrival.

If you are unvaccinated: Until you are fully vaccinated or if you receive an approved exemption for medical or religious reasons, you will be required to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing through our on-campus testing center. You are fully vaccinated two full weeks after your second dose of a two dose vaccine (Moderna/Pfizer), or two weeks after a single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). Once you are fully vaccinated, you will move to a monthly surveillance test. More information about how to schedule your COVID tests will be provided closer to your arrival.

As a reminder, as long as you have a temporary exemption on file, completed quarantine,  started your vaccine requirement and participate in weekly testing, you will be able to attend in-person programming, activities and classes while you complete the university’s vaccine requirement. 

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we implement our health and safety plans for the upcoming year. Please understand that we may make adjustments to this information as we continue to plan for our upcoming fall semester. Updates will be communicated closer to the start of the fall semester. Frequently asked questions for international students is available here.

If you have any medical related questions about vaccines, testing, or quarantining, please email [email protected].  If you have questions about your on-campus room, please email [email protected]. If you have questions about your classes, please contact your academic advisor. Please realize that we are experiencing an increased volume of questions and it may take time for us to individually respond to your questions. 

We are excited for the upcoming year. We hope you are as well.  See you soon!

Jennifer Donaghue, Ed.D  
Executive Director of International Education

Dr. Isabel Goldenberg
Medical Director for the Colonial Health Center

Seth Weinshel and Stewart Robinette
Assistant Deans for Campus Living and Residential Education

Koren A. Bedeau, Ph.D 
Senior Associate Provost for Special Projects