Update on Phase 1b COVID-19 vaccination eligibility

Jan. 13, 2021

Dear Ithaca campus community,

We are writing to provide an update on the vaccine distribution process in New York state. Since Monday, the state has expanded and clarified its vaccine eligibility categories and we expect these refinements to continue. Rather than try to update you by email each time new information is added, we suggest that you monitor New York state’s COVID-19 vaccination website to keep apprised of the most up-to-date information.

Yesterday, following new guidance from the CDC, New York state announced that it would now allow individuals age 65 and older, as well as those who are immunocompromised, to sign up to be vaccinated. The state is working with the CDC for further clarification on which underlying health conditions define the immunocompromised category.

As you know, Phase 1a began on January 4, and on Monday, January 11, the state opened Phase 1b. Phase 1b includes faculty and instructors who teach in person. Our understanding is that faculty and instructors who teach in person as part of a Cornell course are eligible to sign up. If you are currently teaching in person or plan to teach students in person this spring, we encourage you to sign up for vaccination by taking the following steps:

Schedule an appointment. Employees may go to any vaccination site that has available appointments. Scheduling approaches vary by site, by county and by state. Please be aware that vaccine appointments are very limited at this time.

  • To schedule an appointment at the Ithaca Mall at 40 Catherwood Drive (Old Sears store side entrance behind Best Buy), visit Cayuga Medical Center’s COVID Vaccine webpage.
  • To schedule an appointment at other vaccination sites in New York state by region, visit COVID-19 Vaccine: What you Need to Know.
  • If residing outside NY state, visit your local health department website to learn more about vaccination appointments in your area.

Complete the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination form. Prior to receiving the vaccination, you must complete the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form. This form can be completed online. Once complete, you will receive a submission ID, or you can fill out the form at your vaccination site.

  • Note: You must have an appointment scheduled prior to completing the NYS COVID-19 Vaccine Form.

Take all necessary documents with you to your appointment. You will be required to take the following documents to your appointment:

  • Government-issued photo ID.
  • Insurance card (there is no co-pay and no charge if you do not have medical insurance; however, insurance is being billed if you have it).
  • If you are seeking vaccination based on a job category (as opposed to age), you must provide proof of eligibility to be vaccinated in the current phase. The documents you will need are: a Cornell ID, and documentation from Cornell identifying your eligibility. You may request this documentation by submitting a request through the Daily Check Help Desk. If you do not have this letter, and go to the Tompkins County site at the mall, you will be required to complete an attestation form at the vaccination site.

We are encouraged that our community has embraced the importance of being vaccinated and understand that many of you are anxious to receive the vaccine as soon as possible. The systems to sign up for the vaccine can be frustrating, with many appointment time slots being filled minutes after becoming available. Right now, with vaccines in limited supply, it is incumbent on each of us to assess our eligibility and sign up only when we are truly eligible to do so.

We also understand that this is a confusing and stressful time. The CDC and New York state have developed a phased vaccination rollout, and we must work within the established criteria. We have heard from many of you who feel that vaccines should be made available more broadly to those in positions that require regular contact with students and others, and we are actively working with stakeholders in Albany to encourage broader eligibility of our on-campus staff as soon possible.

A town hall meeting has been scheduled for Friday, January 22, to discuss vaccination programs and the upcoming spring semester. We look forward to your questions, and as always, thank you for everything you are doing to help keep our community safe.


Michael Kotlikoff

Mary Opperman
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer