Mason offers new incentives to campus community to meet Aug. 1 deadline to declare vaccination status

Student Justin Barnes receives the COVID-19 vaccine at EagleBank Arena. Photo by Shelby Burgess/Strategic Communications

Everybody who plans to come to campus needs to be vaccinated for the fall semester, and George Mason University officials are making it worth your while to confirm your vaccination status. 

The entire Mason community of more than 50,000 students, faculty and staff is being asked to help the university gain a more complete holistic picture of the community’s overall health by uploading their COVID-19 vaccination status in the Health Services Patient Portal by Aug. 1. The information will be critical in finalizing plans for diagnostic and surveillance testing, symptom screening, capacity at in-person events and dining facilities, transportation and use of common spaces.

The university announced in late July that all students, faculty and staff will be required to be vaccinated for the coming semester. Employees seeking a medical or religious exemption must do so by Aug. 15.

“Mason has worked hard to put safety first, and it has shown in our case counts and overall management of COVID during the past year,” said Julie Zobel, Mason’s associate vice president for safety, emergency, and enterprise risk management. “The next step in keeping the Mason community safe depends on knowing the rate of vaccination on campus. This will help us put the right safeguards in place this fall.”

As an added incentive, those who meet the deadline will automatically be placed in a raffle with the chance to win parking permits, professional development funding, bookstore gift cards, tickets to athletic events, performances at the Center for the Arts and the Hylton Performing Arts Center, and MasonMoney. Campus community members do not have to be vaccinated to be eligible for the giveaways, but must upload or declare their vaccination status.

Alvaro Muniz, a project manager and business analyst in the Office of the Provost, was among the early winners, receiving a $500 gift card from Barnes & Noble for having uploaded his vaccination status in June.

“I didn’t expect it at all,” he said. “I would have put it up whether there were added incentives or not. If the incentives get people to participate in the program, then all the better.”

Individual vaccination records will be confidentially maintained by Safety, Emergency, & Enterprise Risk Management, Student Health Services, and Human Resources. The information submitted will not be shared with supervisors or course instructors.

The vaccination status of each Mason student, faculty member and staff person will determine which testing category they are in this semester. Those who are vaccinated will not be tested unless they are in a high-contact role, such as a dance class, police officer or residential student, while non-vaccinated community members will be tested at least once a week.

Knowing the vaccination status of the Mason community will also help Mason properly staff collection sites for both diagnostic and surveillance testing, as well as the COVID testing laboratory, Zobel said. That knowledge will also help university officials more accurately estimate space needs for unvaccinated individuals at indoor events, on Mason shuttles, in dining halls and other common areas as unvaccinated individuals will be required to both wear a mask and maintain proper physical distance.

Each person’s individual vaccine status will also help determine the long-term need for continuing the daily Mason COVID Health Check, protocols for notifications and course suspension in the event of another outbreak and any breakthrough cases of COVID that involve a vaccinated individual.