COVID-19 Health and Safety
Safety has been and continues to be a top priority as we navigate COVID-19. Our COVID-19 response upholds the university’s mission and values while grounding our decisions in science, expert advice and protecting our community members.
For fall 2022, we will continue to be attentive and realistic in our COVID-19 approach, focusing on shared responsibility, respect, and support for fellow community members. We will maintain a flexible and nimble public health coordination function ready to adapt to current and future health and wellness needs.
This website will be updated with relevant guidance throughout the academic year. The pages below outline where individuals can find more information on:
- Submitting a positive COVID-19 test result
- Voluntarily submitting their vaccination or booster record
- How positive case/isolation and close contact/quarantine works
- Where to get tested
- Masking and other protocols
We continue to carefully monitor data and work closely with our public health experts at the university and VUMC. With a highly vaccinated and boostered population, we have made great strides to protecting ourselves and fellow community members. As always, we will continue to monitor conditions and update the Vanderbilt community if protocols change in the future.
Find answers to the most asked questions about our COVID-19 health and safety protocols
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COVID-19 Health & Safety Protocols
Public Health Central Command Center
The Vanderbilt Public Health Central Command Center (Command Center) is a collaboration between the Nurse Faculty Practice Division in the School of Nursing, Division of Administration, Office of the Provost, Vanderbilt Student Health Center (SHC) and Vanderbilt Occupational Health Center (OHC). The Command Center provides support for positive and close contact individuals, contact tracing and contact notifications, coordination of symptomatic testing entities and free at-home test kit availability, vaccination records intake, and coordination of possible future booster clinics to ensure timely coordination to protect and support the health and safety of the campus and Nashville community.
Positive Case Webform
Members of the Vanderbilt community who have received a COVID-19 positive test result should complete the following webform. This includes those who utilize at-home tests or a VUMC walk in clinic. The webform goes directly to the Command Center to ensure confidentiality.
Test results of individuals tested by Student Health and Occupational Health are routed automatically.
Individuals will receive communication from the Command Center about their isolation (if they tested positive) or quarantine period (if considered an unvaccinated close contact). Anyone with symptoms will be instructed to contact Student Health or Occupational Health.
Vaccination Record Submission
COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective at preventing serious illness or hospitalization and reduces potential transmission to others even if you do get infected. The rapid development and expansion of the vaccine is an unprecedented achievement in the history of medicine and is one in which scientists and clinicians at Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center played leading roles. This underscores the power of our university’s relentless pursuit of innovation and our mission to be of service to our community.
Vaccine distribution is managed by each state, and in Tennessee, the state’s plan is coordinated by the Tennessee Department of Health in cooperation with each county health department.
Vanderbilt students can contact Student Health to schedule a vaccine if interested. Faculty, staff and post docs who are VUMC patients can obtain a vaccine at VUMC and should contact their primary care physician, can schedule through the myHealth app and/or find more information here. Individuals can also look into options to be vaccinated in the local Nashville community.
Submit Your Vaccination Record
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are not mandatory but strongly encouraged at this time. Vanderbilt students, faculty, postdoctoral fellows and staff can submit their vaccination or booster records to the Public Health Command Center using a password-protected, self-service portal. To submit your vaccination record, click on the vaccine tracker/submission form.
These records are important for VU to be able to exempt individuals from a quarantine period if they are identified at any time as a close contact. These records will be maintained and treated as confidential by the Command Center. A picture or screenshot of the vaccination card, documentation, or an online medical record showing the dates of the vaccine doses will be needed. Email the Command Center at email@example.com if any problems are encountered submitting vaccination information to the system.
Contact tracing generally works as follows:
- If an individual develops symptoms and is awaiting a COVID-19 test, receives a positive COVID-19 test result, or is identified as a close contact by contact tracers and is unvaccinated, then the individual stays home until released.
- Campus residents will generally isolate or quarantine in their regular on-campus housing assignments. Limited isolation/quarantine space is available. More details are outlined below in the “campus residents” section.
- When a positive COVID-19 test result is identified, a contact tracing survey will be sent to the individual who tested positive. The individual who is positive must complete the survey which determines all of the necessary information for contact tracing. A contact tracer will review the information submitted and contact the individual who is positive if further information is required.
- Vaccinated close contacts will receive notification and instructions by email.
- Unvaccinated close contacts will be called by a contact tracer, interviewed and given instructions for quarantine.
- Please note that during this process the name of the index case will be disclosed to possible contacts, but protected health information will not be disclosed.
Per both Vanderbilt protocol and CDC guidance, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic persons, 2 days prior to positive test collection) until the time the person is isolated.
Things to remember:
- Incidental exposure such as walking by someone in the hallway, using the same equipment or the same area/room is not close contact.
- Surface contamination is not a primary pathway of concern per the CDC. Public areas will be frequently disinfected by Facilities/Plant Operations.
Members of the Vanderbilt community who have received a COVID-19 positive test result from an entity other than Student Health or Occupational Health, regardless of vaccination status, should complete the following webform. More information can be found on the Command Center FAQ.
Individuals will receive direct communication from the Command Center about their isolation. If you have a positive test result:
- You remain in isolation for 5 days after your symptoms started or tested positive, whichever came first. You can return to campus activities after 5 days of isolation if symptoms have improved or you remain asymptomatic.
- You are required to monitor symptoms and wear a tight-fitting mask for 5 additional days.
- Details regarding isolation for campus residents is outlined in the “campus residents” section below.
If you are a close contact:
- You should continue participating in on-campus activities provided you are vaccinated and do not have COVID-19 symptoms. You must monitor symptoms and wear a tight-fitting mask at all times for 10 days.
- If you are unvaccinated, then you should quarantine for 5 days from the last exposure to the positive person and we recommend you test at day 5.
Vanderbilt students, faculty, postdoctoral fellows and staff can submit their vaccination records to the Public Health Command Center using a password-protected, self-service portal. To submit your vaccination record, click on the vaccine tracker/submission form.
These records are important for VU to be able to exempt individuals from a quarantine period if they are identified at any time as a close contact. These records will be maintained and treated as confidential by the Command Center.
If you develop any covid symptoms, you should get tested as soon as possible and shelter in place until you get a negative test result. For more information on testing, please visit the COVID-19 Testing FAQ.
Officials with the university’s Public Health Central Command Center will continue to make determinations of quarantine periods for unvaccinated close contacts. Details regarding quarantine for campus residents is outlined in the campus residents section below.
Campus residents will generally isolate or quarantine in their regular on-campus housing assignments. They will remain in their spaces at all times other than to seek medical care or pick up food. They will wear a well-fitting mask at all times when in any shared areas and will clean shared areas immediately after use. Roommates should also wear a well-fitting mask at all times in shared areas and clean those areas regularly during the isolation or quarantine period. KN95 masks are recommended and are available on campus at no cost. Additional details will be provided to campus residents at the time of their isolation or quarantine.
Limited isolation space is available on campus and will be reserved for campus residents who test positive for COVID-19 and who live in a double room with a student with moderate or severe immunosuppression, including, but not limited to, (i) those in active treatment for cancer; (ii) solid-organ transplant patients taking immunosuppressive medications; (iii) stem cell transplant patients within two years of transplantation or taking immunosuppressive medications; (iv) those with inherited immunosuppressive conditions, such as DiGeorge Syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome; (v) those with an advanced or untreated HIV infection and a CD4 count of less than 200, AIDS defining illness without subsequent improvement, or current uncontrolled viral loads with ongoing symptoms; or (vi) those with moderate or severe immunosuppression because of medications (e.g., Prednisone for more than two weeks, chemotherapy medications, biologic medications like Humira or Remicade). In these instances, the campus resident who has tested positive will be relocated to isolation housing.
Students with moderate or severe immunosuppression should register with Student Access if they would like to proactively prepare for any accommodations due to a roommate who tests positive for COVID-19. Students with moderate or severe immunosuppression may also be eligible for Evusheld, a pre-exposure prophylaxis available at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The Student Health Center will assist with referrals for Evusheld for eligible students. More information is available at https://www.vumc.org/student-health/covid-19.
Classes and Work
Students in quarantine and isolation should contact their instructors to discuss a plan to access class material and make up missed work. Faculty will work with students as they do other times when a student misses class due to a medical condition.
Staff members in quarantine or isolation should contact their supervisor to discuss time off work. Human Resources is available for additional questions. The COVID leave bank is still available.
COVID-19 Testing Information
Symptomatic testing is available at the following locations:
- Student Health is open Mondays to Fridays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for students. Travel testing for students is also available through SHC. Please consult their website for more information.
- Occupational Health Express Care is open Mondays to Fridays 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for VU faculty, staff or postdocs. Location is Suite 112 on the 1st Floor of the Medical Arts Building. Work-related travel testing is also available at OHC; contact OHC for information.
- Vanderbilt Health Walk-In Clinics noted here and the Vanderbilt Health Clinics at Walgreens noted here offer COVID-19 testing.
- More information on testing options through VUMC can be found here.
Individuals who need tests for personal travel or would like to seek testing options outside of Vanderbilt have the following options:
- Metro-Nashville has testing locations open.
- In addition, there are additional testing sites in Tennessee and Kentucky.
Free rapid antigen at-home kits are available for the Vanderbilt community (students, faculty, staff, post-docs) for pick-up at the following location on campus:
- Sarratt 310: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays.
Rapid tests that you can do at home may also be available at retail locations and are partially-covered by Vanderbilt insurance.
Testing Protocols & Reporting Test Results
Asymptomatic testing requirements for Vanderbilt community members are currently suspended. Individuals who are identified as close contacts or would like to periodically test asymptomatically, can pick up rapid antigen tests as outlined above. Individuals with symptoms should test at SHC, OHC, VUMC or their medical provider. Testing protocols will continually be evaluated based on trends in positivity rate and case counts and are subject to change.
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 outside of Student Health or Occupation Health, must report their positive test result to the Vanderbilt Command Center. Individuals should immediately notify the Vanderbilt Command Center through this webform.
Symptomatic Individuals Waiting on Test Results
A student who lives on campus awaiting test results from symptomatic testing should shelter in place in their room. Students who live off campus should remain at home off campus minimizing exposure to others and keep their instructors/department chair/supervisor/mentor/lead researcher informed of their return-to-campus status. Once a negative test result is received, the student should return to campus work, research, classes, and other activities. If a positive test result is received and the student tested at a facility other than Student Health, then the individual should remain in quarantine and immediately notify the Vanderbilt Command Center through this webform.
Faculty, staff and post-docs awaiting test results from symptomatic testing should remain at home, off campus minimizing exposure to others and keep their department chair/supervisor/mentor/lead researcher informed of their return-to-campus status. Once a negative test result is received, the individual should return to campus work, research, classes, and other activities. If a positive test result is received, then the individual should remain off campus and immediately notify the Vanderbilt Command Center through this webform.
Masking and Physical Distancing
The university continues to follow the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on Davidson’s County’s COVID community level. Individuals are encouraged to follow CDC guidance based on Davidson’s County’s COVID community level. The Davidson County community level will also be noted on the right-hand side of each myVU newsletter.
Throughout the pandemic, the university has followed the latest scientific updates and developed its plans in close consultation with experts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, as well as national, state and local public health officials.
Gatherings and Activities
Gathering size limits are lifted for gatherings. Outdoor areas should be used as community gathering spaces whenever possible. Indoor gatherings may occur at up to the full capacity of a given indoor space, including work, classroom and research spaces.
Policies and Compliance
Vanderbilt is utilizing software and tools to manage the Return to Campus response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The central repository for data will be housed on secure Vanderbilt servers. Special purpose software, Mazikcare, will be fed data from existing university systems as well as from the Public Health Central Command Center (“Command Center”). Along with the data feeds from existing university systems, the Command Center will enter data from Student Health, Occupational Health, results from the university’s COVID-19 testing program (which are made available to the Command Center through a secure web portal), and its own Contact Tracers (collectively “COVID-19 Data”) in an effort to improve safety on campus.
This Privacy Q&A is designed to inform you about how Vanderbilt collects and uses information provided when you or the Command Center use the COVID-19 Data and how Vanderbilt processes your personal information.
How Do We Use Your Information?
Vanderbilt has a legitimate interest in processing your data in order to better ensure the safety of the Vanderbilt community by aggregation and analysis of the data provided by or about each individual community member. The Command Center and other campus partners may use the COVID-19 Data to identify (for example through use of the VandySafe symptom checker) and respond to positive cases, to identify Close Contacts, and to manage quarantine and isolation. Privacy by design principles are imbedded in this process. Information is shared only to the extent necessary to address the risk to a particular individual and to community members with whom the individual may have come in contact.
Who Has Access to Your Information?
Vanderbilt’s guiding principle in the use of this data is to only permit access data to those with an absolute need to know the information. The data is only accessible by Contact Tracers, the Command Center staff and a limited technical support team with explicit permission to access the data and only with the controls of single sign-on and multi factor authentication. These individuals may share individual community members’ information with others (including those with a need to know such as, the Dean of Students, Staff supervisors, PIs, Building managers, et. al.) but only to the extent necessary. This data is only being utilized to ensure a safe campus environment. Vanderbilt does not share your information with third parties for any commercial purpose. (The data stored in the Mazikcare application is not accessible to anybody outside of Vanderbilt’s authorized users.)
How Long Does Vanderbilt Keep Your Information?
Vanderbilt will practice data minimization and only retain your information for as long as necessary to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Does Vanderbilt Protect Your Information?
Vanderbilt takes very seriously its obligation to protect the confidentiality of your personal information and use of such information complies with applicable privacy laws including HIPAA and FERPA as well as non-discrimination laws including the ADA and the FMLA. In addition, Vanderbilt uses a combination of process, technology and physical security controls to help protect your information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. The Mazikcare application, which is the technological hub of Vanderbilt’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is behind the single sign-on. A redundant security control for Mazikcare application is multi-factor authentication. Authorized users are bound by agreement to keep confidential all personal information which they access. These authorized uses have received training specific to their roles including training on privacy (including applicable privacy laws) and cybersecurity.