Vaccination at Cornell
New York state has developed a phased approach to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. As of April 6, all New York state residents at 16 and over are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Cornell intends to require vaccination for students returning to Ithaca, Geneva and Cornell Tech campuses for the Fall 2021 semester. At this time, Cornell is not requiring our employees to be vaccinated; however, we strongly encourage all members of our community to be vaccinated when eligible. Vaccination is key to the resolution of this global pandemic, and we hope that all take this opportunity to protect yourselves, as well as our community.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?
At this time, New York state currently recognizes the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Johnson & Johnson is a single-dose vaccine, while Pfizer and Moderna each require two doses. In both cases, an individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final dose schedule.
Is the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for Cornell students?
With the recent announcements of expanded vaccine eligibility in New York and other states, and increasing vaccine production, it is likely that all members of our community will be able to obtain vaccination sometime this spring or summer. Accordingly, Cornell intends to require vaccination for students returning to Ithaca, Geneva, and Cornell Tech campuses for the fall semester. Medical and religious exemptions will be accommodated, but the expectation will be that our campuses and classrooms will overwhelmingly consist of vaccinated individuals, greatly reducing the risk of infection for all. Individuals who are not able to obtain vaccination prior to arrival for the fall semester, or whose vaccination is not recognized by New York state, will be expected to be vaccinated as soon after their arrival as possible, and Cornell is investigating ways to facilitate this process.
Is the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for Cornell employees?
At this time, Cornell is not requiring our employees to be vaccinated. Vaccination is key to ending the global pandemic, and we hope that everyone takes this opportunity to protect themselves, as well as our community.
Are all members of the Cornell community required to submit proof of vaccination?
It is critical for the university to have accurate data on the extent of community protection from COVID-19 in order to make informed decisions about safe campus operations. We have now established an easy way for members of the Cornell community to register their vaccination status through the Daily Check using the COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination tool. Registration is required of all Cornell students, faculty, and staff once they have completed the dose schedule for their vaccination. Once we have better data about the degree of community protection that has been achieved, we will offer additional details regarding full campus reactivation in a safe and responsible manner.
I am eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. How do I get vaccinated?
Schedule an appointment. You 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. Be sure to schedule your first dose with the second appointment in mind. If you schedule an appointment locally but plan to depart at the end of the semester, it is critical to allow enough time to complete the full required vaccination protocol before leaving, as you may be unable to receive the second dose in another state or country. There are 21 days between doses of the Pfizer vaccine, 28 days between doses of the Moderna vaccine, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one dose.
- If you are eligible for vaccination in Tompkins County, you can complete the Tompkins County Health Department's COVID-19 Vaccine Registry to be contacted when doses become available. (Individuals should continue to seek available vaccine appointments as described below.)
- 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. (Must be eligible for vaccination in Tompkins County.)
- To schedule an appointment at a local pharmacy, refer to the Tompkins County Health Department website for information. (Must be eligible for vaccination in Tompkins County.)
- To schedule an appointment at other vaccination sites in New York state by region, visit COVID-19 Vaccine: What you Need to Know. (Must be eligible for vaccination in New York state.)
- 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 working on campus, please use the Cornell Vaccine Eligibility Attestation Tool to generate your eligibility letter. 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.
- If you are eligible for vaccination based on underlying health conditions, proof of eligibility will be required. In Tompkins County, proof of eligibility is a self-attestation: you can download and complete the self-attestation (PDF), or complete it at the vaccination site. If you are getting vaccinated outside of Tompkins County, you should consult the local vaccination website for documentation requirements. Students who need a letter as proof of comorbidities should refer to Cornell Health's website for instructions.
How do I get to my vaccine appointment?
Tompkins County is offering free shuttle bus service to the mass vaccination site at SUNY Binghamton for eligible students who wish to be vaccinated. Find more information, including a schedule, on the Tompkins County website.
Can I receive my vaccine on work time?
Employees will be provided paid time should their vaccination appointment fall during scheduled work time. This time off will include travel to and from the distribution site.
Will the COVID-19 vaccination cost anything?
While the vaccine is free, insurance will be charged an administration fee. There is no copay, the cost is not subject to deductible and there is no charge for anyone without health insurance.
If I have been vaccinated, do I need to continue with surveillance testing?
Fully vaccinated students (i.e., 14 days after your final dose) who have submitted proof of vaccination to the Daily Check site will be shifted to a once per week surveillance testing schedule. All students, regardless of vaccination status, should continue to follow the Behavioral Compact and wear a mask, avoid large groups and practice physical distancing.
Fully vaccinated faculty and staff (i.e., 14 days after your final dose) who have uploaded proof of vaccination to the Daily Check site are exempt from surveillance testing requirements.
If I get vaccinated, will I test positive on future COVID-19 viral tests?
Approved vaccines will not cause a positive viral test, which are used to determine whether a person has current infection. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.
If I get my first vaccine dose in another state, can I get my second dose in New York?
At this time, New York state will not provide a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to those who received a first dose in another state. If you have received your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in a state other than New York, it is recommended that you remain in that state until you receive your second dose. If you travel back to Ithaca before receiving the second dose and need to return home, you will need to follow the travel exemption process, including obtaining pre-approval to travel and following return quarantine and testing protocols.
I have obtained a vaccine outside of the United States that is not currently approved by the U.S. FDA. Should I report this and what can I expect?
We do not know whether international vaccinations will be considered valid in the U.S. at this time, but we hope that regulations will develop to enable appropriate recognition. In the interim, it is still valuable for you to complete the proof of vaccination process if you have received a vaccine abroad, even if it is not authorized at this point by the U.S. FDA. We expect that guidelines for those receiving these vaccines will continue to evolve and encourage those affected to be on the lookout for new advice from the CDC and NYS Department of Health. Having your vaccination information on file will make it easier for Cornell to communicate with you if we learn of new guidance.
Fall 2021 Student Vaccination Requirement
I am worried about the timing of my appointment for the second dose of my COVID-19 vaccine. Is there anything I can do to change the date of my appointment?
Yes, you have several options for rescheduling your second dose:
- Visit the Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) website, and complete the form to schedule or reschedule an appointment for your second dose
- For questions about vaccine registration and general guidance, you can call the Tompkins County helpline at 877-211-8667 24 hours a day to receive help from a live person. You can also email TCHD at COVID19vaccines@tompkins-co.org, or visit the TCHD’s pages on Vaccination Clinics or COVID-19 Vaccination.
- Pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS can also accommodate second doses. You can search vaccines.gov to find clinics using your specific vaccine. Then, visit the pharmacy website or call to schedule an appointment.
- For general information specific to Tompkins County, you can call Community Health Services at 607-274-6604. For general information specific to New York state, please call the NYS COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at: 1-833-697-4829.
May Cornell require that all students be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of attendance?
Yes. The rationale for the vaccination requirement is Cornell’s driving concern to protect the health and safety of our community to the fullest extent possible and to enable our students to return to an even safer campus in the fall of 2021 in the face of a pandemic that has cost millions of lives worldwide. Cornell has and will continue to rely on the most up-to-date scientific information available to make informed decisions about its operations.
It is not uncommon for universities to mandate that students be vaccinated against dangerous diseases that can transmit easily throughout the student population on a residential campus. As is the case with all vaccination requirements, there will be an option for students to request religious and medical exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Cornell’s announcement was made early so that our students could understand the university’s expectation and for many to get vaccinated before leaving Ithaca, as New York state has opened opportunities for residents, including university students, over the age of 16 commencing April 6, 2021. Students and their families also have significant time now to review the vaccination expectation and request waivers as appropriate or make other plans for the fall 2021 semester.
We understand that some individuals may be concerned that the currently available COVID-19 vaccines have yet to be fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, they are currently approved for use under Emergency Use Authorization and have been subject to clinical trials conducted according to rigorous standards set forth by the FDA involving tens of thousands of study participants to determine their safety and effectiveness. Millions of people in the U.S. so far have received COVID-19 vaccines and complications are extremely rare.
Three COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) – are currently being distributed in the U.S. The vaccines are currently undergoing the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Consistent with this extraordinary safety monitoring and track record, we note also that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recognized that employers may require the EUA-approved vaccine as a condition of employment during this time of the pandemic.
Distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was briefly paused due to safety concerns. Will Cornell still require students to be vaccinated for the Fall 2021 semester?
Cornell continues to follow the science as we work to maintain a safe campus for learning and discovery during the pandemic. While the news of the J&J vaccine pause was concerning, the CDC and FDA have since recommended that the pause in use of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine should be lifted and distribution of the vaccine should resume. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have not been associated with the potential complication currently being evaluated in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and remain available. Cornell will continue to pursue scientifically sound decisions that follow the best public health guidance and adapt to emerging information.
If a student receives an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination mandate, is Cornell going to provide them with particular accommodations with respect to remote study?
No. Status as an unvaccinated individual generally does not entitle that person to an accommodation. In some cases, disability accommodations may be provided if the student cannot be vaccinated (e.g., for medical or religious reasons) and has an underlying disability which puts them at a higher risk for COVID-19 complications.
Will COVID-19 vaccinations from outside the U.S. be accepted for in-person attendance?
New York state currently recognizes the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. For this reason, students who have received non-U.S.-approved vaccines (i.e., any COVID-19 vaccine other than Pfizer, Moderna or J&J) will likely be required to be vaccinated with a U.S.-approved vaccine as soon as possible upon arrival to meet Cornell’s mandate. However, Cornell will continue to monitor relevant guidance and update requirements as indicated.
How will Cornell assist students with getting vaccinated?
With New York state’s authorization of vaccinations for individuals over the age of 16, Cornell is working hard to partner with the Tompkins County Health Department and Cayuga Medical Center to increase vaccination opportunities for our students both at the Shops at Ithaca Mall site, and on campus. Information will be shared swiftly when vaccination opportunities are available based on vaccine allocations from the state.
How can students inform Cornell that they have been vaccinated?
Students should complete the Proof of Vaccination Process accessed through the Daily Check. This process is different than submitting vaccination information to Cornell Health, but, upon completion, vaccination information will also be added to students’ Cornell Health records.
Who has access to students’ vaccination data that is captured in Cornell’s Daily Check?
While the data collected is not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy law (HIPPA), the university is keeping vaccination information confidential just as it would any other student data. The only people who can see all of the individual data are a limited number of university employees who are verifying or maintaining the records. Other university employees who will be implementing changes in university operations as pandemic conditions evolve will have access to only the data needed (e.g., vaccination status) to implement the operational changes. Aggregate data will be used by the university to inform its decisions about policy and operational changes.
How is vaccination information captured via the Daily Check stored and protected?
The Daily Check is a custom application that was developed in-house by Cornell Information Technologies. The server and database access are located behind Cornell NetID authentication and hosted within a Cornell-contracted cloud hosting provider with firewall protection. Data used for other student services purposes as pandemic conditions evolve will be stored on university systems that are similarly protected and that are used on a daily basis for all other student data.