Time Sensitive: Important Information to Prepare for Phase 1c and 2 Vaccine Distribution

To: All Students
From: Michele Rasmussen, Dean of Students in the University
Subject: Time Sensitive: Important Information to Prepare for Phase 1c and 2 Vaccine Distribution
Date: February 24, 2021

I write to share important information in advance of Phase 1c and 2 of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, including actions that may be required on your part. Although plans for these coming phases are not yet final, we are proactively taking steps to support a smooth vaccine rollout to the UChicago community.

As of now we expect most students to be eligible in Phase 2, which the City of Chicago is estimating to begin on May 31. Other students may be eligible in Phase 1c, including those with medical conditions that place them at higher risk of serious health outcomes from COVID-19, and students whose employment includes classroom or on-campus duties. Please note that the city’s vaccination schedule remains subject to change.  Although most students likely will need to wait until Phase 2 to be vaccinated, the information in this message will help us prepare for vaccination whenever you are eligible. 

This message includes information about two important steps:

  1. How to opt out from the creation of a medical record for vaccination purposes
  2. How to self-identify as an individual with high-risk condition(s), which may affect the timing of your eligibility for vaccination

The University and UChicago Medicine (UCM) are preparing to offer an on-campus vaccine clinic for eligible members of the University community during Phase 1c and Phase 2, pending approval from the Chicago Department of Public Health regarding our distribution plan, and subject to vaccine availability. Because Phase 2 is projected to start on May 31 and UChicago’s academic year ends on June 12, we do not yet know how many students will be able to receive vaccines on campus before the end of the academic year or over the summer. But we are preparing for many contingencies with the goal of offering the vaccine to as many members of the University community as possible.

It is important to note that the City’s current guidance could evolve before the start of the next phase. In addition, please keep in mind that the vaccine clinic the University is developing with UCM will only be open to eligible members of the UChicago community as defined by the city, and not to others in your household who are not eligible.

  1. UCM Medical Record Creation and Opt-Out Procedure

Please note: As a University student, you do not have to take any action now if you would like to maintain the option of vaccination through the University vaccine clinic.

The choice you need to address now is whether you want UCM to create a medical record for you, which is required for anyone who receives a vaccine through the University clinic. If you decide that you do not want a medical record created, you need to opt out. If you do not opt out, UCM will automatically create a medical record for you as a University student. Please note that if you have previously been a UCM patient or participated in the University’s COVID-19 testing programs, you already have an existing UCM medical record and can no longer opt out.

If you do not want UCM to create a medical record for you, you must opt out by completing the electronic form provided in the February 24 email to the University community by 5 p.m. on March 1, 2021.  If you opt out of the medical record creation process, you will not be able to receive a vaccine as part of the University’s on-campus vaccination clinic, and you will need to seek a vaccine through another resource if you wish to receive it. 

Here is additional information to keep in mind about medical record creation:

  • If you do not opt out by 5 p.m. on March 1, UCM will create a medical record for you. However, this does not obligate you to receive the vaccine in the University’s vaccine program. If you are unsure at this time if you want the vaccine, we encourage you not to opt out from creation of a medical record. That way, you will retain the option to be vaccinated on campus – or to decide against vaccination – when appointments become available. 
  • Once created, information in UCM medical records will be handled in accordance with UCM’s Notice of Privacy Practices, which can be found here.
  • Once your medical record is active, you will be able to use the MyChart system when the time comes to schedule a vaccination appointment.  MyChart is the web/mobile patient portal through which UCM patients can schedule appointments and access their medical record.

More information about medical record creation is on our FAQ page.

  1. Voluntary Self-Identification and Attestation as an Individual with a High-Risk Medical Condition(s)

Phase 1c for the City of Chicago will include people ages 16-64 with certain high-risk medical conditions, as outlined by public health authorities.

Please use the electronic form provided in the February 24 email to the University community if you wish to self-identify and attest as currently having at least one of these conditions as outlined by public health authorities. The form asks only if one or more of the conditions apply to you; it does not ask which specific condition(s) you have. Please do not specify which condition(s) you have

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Diabetes
  • Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions – heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, or pulmonary hypertension
  • Immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity or severe obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Disclosure of whether one or more of these conditions apply to you is voluntary. This information will be kept confidential, and will be maintained securely and separately from other student records.  The information will be used only for purposes of vaccine administration.

Given the vital need to help protect those considered most at risk in each phase of vaccine rollout, it is critical that only individuals who have one or more of the specified conditions identify as such through this process. The form requires individuals to sign and attest to the truth of their self-identification as having one or more of the conditions.

Next Steps After Record Creation and Self-Identification

If you do not already have a MyChart account and if you have not opted out from creation of a medical record, you will receive an email in March with instructions to activate your MyChart account. As we get closer to the start of Phase 1c, individuals who are eligible for vaccination at the on-campus clinic will receive information via MyChart about scheduling their appointments. The University’s vaccine allocation policy for Phase 1c distribution will be announced in the coming month as more information becomes available about vaccine distribution in the City, and the timing of Phases 1c and 2 is clearer. The University will also share further details in our Weekly COVID-19 Update emails and on the UChicago Forward site as the City of Chicago provides additional guidance.

Please visit the UChicago Forward site for more information about UChicago’s vaccination efforts, including FAQs about preparations for Phase 1c and Phase 2 vaccinations for the UChicago community. We also encourage you to review the UCM COVID-19 vaccine Q&A, which addresses many common questions about the vaccine. If you have further questions about these vaccination preparations, please call our information hotline at 773-795-5374.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.