New federal requirements on Covid vaccination

October 25, 2021


  • As a federal contractor, MIT is subject to a new requirement that its employees be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by December 8. [Update: The deadline for the new requirement that employees be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 has been extended to January 18, 2022. If you have questions, please contact The remaining dates in this letter have been adjusted from the original to reflect the new deadlines.]
  • This change will not impact anyone at MIT who is fully vaccinated and who has already uploaded proof of vaccination, or those with an existing medical exemption.
  • Because of this federal change, MIT can no longer offer an exemption from vaccination for employees who work remotely, unless they work entirely outside of the US.
  • Staff, faculty, and postdocs in the US with a remote exemption must be fully vaccinated, or receive a medical or religious exemption, by January 18, 2022.
  • Staff, faculty, postdocs, and other Covid Pass users who have received a religious exemption must complete a new exemption request form to provide additional information consistent with the new requirements.
  • Lincoln Laboratory will communicate directly with its employees about the impact of this executive order.
  • Students are receiving a separate communication about these new requirements.

To the members of the MIT community,

The Biden administration recently issued an executive order and related guidance requiring that employees of federal contractors be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by January 18, 2022, with limited exceptions.

Although our campus community has already achieved a 98% vaccination rate, as a federal contractor, MIT must comply with this new federal mandate. Therefore, MIT will eliminate its remote-work exemption for US-based employees (with the exception of Lincoln Laboratory at this time), and will also modify the religious exemption process for all Covid Pass users.

Eliminating remote-work exemption; More documentation for religious exemption; January 18, 2022 deadline

Previously, MIT allowed a category of vaccination exemption for employees who work fully remotely. However, this remote-work exemption is no longer permitted under the new federal requirements, except for employees who work entirely outside the United States.

This means that by January 18, 2022, all MIT employees (with the exception of Lincoln Laboratory at this time), postdocs, and others in Covid Pass must:

Individuals who have a remote-work exemption and are working inside the US must either be fully vaccinated or request another type of exemption from this federal requirement. To request an exemption, they should complete the Vaccination Exemption Request Form. Those with an existing religious exemption must also complete a new exemption form. Exemption requests will be reviewed by MIT Human Resources.

Those who do not comply with these new requirements by January 18, 2022 will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence, have their campus access restricted, and/or be subject to additional disciplinary action. At that time, they will be contacted individually about their status and options.

Guidance for obtaining your vaccination

The vaccination process must begin soon in order to meet the January 18, 2022 deadline for full vaccination. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they receive their final vaccine. The timeline for full vaccination varies depending on vaccine manufacturer:

  • Moderna: First dose must be administered at least six weeks ahead, which is December 7, and second dose by January 4.
  • Pfizer: First dose must be administered at least five weeks ahead, which is December 14, and second dose by January 4.
  • Johnson & Johnson: Only one dose required, which must be administered by January 4, 2022.

Employees can locate a vaccine provider in Massachusetts on the Vaccine Finder website, and may use Sick-Covid19 time to receive and recover from vaccinations; more details can be found on the Pay Policies page on the HR website. Vaccine boosters are not currently required by the new federal mandate.

Please continue to visit the MIT Now site for additional Covid-related policies, including those relating to testing, masking, and social distancing. If you have questions, please contact


Ramona Allen, Vice President for Human Resources

Martin A. Schmidt, Provost

Maria T. Zuber, Vice President for Research