Vaccination at Cornell
Cornell will 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.
The CDC offers a tool to search for vaccination sites near you, and the Tompkins County Health Department has several local vaccination sites and frequently offers pop-up clinics. Be sure to schedule your first dose with the second appointment in mind; 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. Bring your photo identification and insurance card, if you have one, to your scheduled appointment.
Fall 2021 Student Vaccination Requirement
Is the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for Cornell students?
Yes, Cornell is requiring COVID-19 vaccination for students attending the Ithaca, Geneva, and Cornell Tech campuses for the fall 2021 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. Students who do not comply will be subject to progressive enforcement measures.
Which vaccines does Cornell accept?
Cornell accepts COVID-19 vaccines approved by the following three organizations: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Currently, this includes the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Sinovac, Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Once vaccinated, upload your proof of vaccination to the Daily Check.
Although Cornell intends to accept vaccines authorized by the FDA, EMA and WHO, at this time New York state only accepts FDA-authorized vaccines. Therefore, individuals not vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine may be subject to quarantine requirements in the event of contact tracing or other possible exposure to COVID-19. Students who have not received an FDA-authorized vaccine are encouraged to consider doing so in order to satisfy all New York state requirements and will be eligible to be re-vaccinated in Tompkins County.
How do I submit proof of vaccination? What is the deadline?
The deadline for students to submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination for the fall semester is August 16. 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.
What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?
Students are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final dose schedule of an FDA-authorized vaccine; proof of vaccination must be uploaded the Daily Check. For the fall semester, Cornell plans to accept all vaccines authorized by the following health organizations: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO)). At this time, however, New York state only accepts FDA-authorized vaccines. Therefore, individuals not vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine may be subject to quarantine requirements in the event of contact tracing or other possible exposure to COVID-19
Are COVID-19 antibodies a substitute for the vaccine requirement?
No. While serology studies are currently underway, there is not enough information available regarding how long COVID-19 immunity lasts from natural infection. Getting vaccinated after being infected with COVID-19 further boosts one’s protection, and is a safe way to protect yourself and others.
What happens if I can’t get vaccinated before the start of the fall semester?
The deadline for students to submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination for the fall semester is August 16. Students who are not able to obtain vaccination prior to that date, or whose vaccination is not recognized by Cornell, will be expected to be vaccinated as soon after their arrival as possible.
Cornell Health anticipates being able to administer COVID-19 vaccine to students who are unable to obtain a vaccine prior to the start of the semester. For more details, including how to schedule a vaccination appointment on campus, visit the Cornell Health website.
What restrictions will be in place for unvaccinated students?
All students – undergraduate, graduate and professional – are required to document their vaccination status with the university and expected to act honestly and ethically in observing public health requirements. Students who do not comply will be subject to progressive enforcement measures.
Unvaccinated students, including those with approved medical or religious exemptions, must comply with the university’s public health requirements for unvaccinated individuals. This includes following such protective measures as maintaining physical distance from others, when possible, wearing a mask when indoors and participating in surveillance testing. Once fully vaccinated, students will not be required to follow such measures.
Will students with vaccine exemptions be separated from the vaccinated student population?
No. Because of the vaccine mandate, we anticipate that the vast majority of our campus community will be vaccinated, which allows for sufficient community immunity to protect the most vulnerable among us. Unvaccinated students must comply with the university’s public health requirements for unvaccinated individuals.
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 avail themselves of opportunities on campus or at home to receive any one of the approved vaccines. New York state opened vaccination opportunities for residents over the age of 12 in mid-May, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded emergency use authorization to encompass that age group on May 10, 2021. Students and their families have had significant time since then 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 FDA. However, they are currently authorized 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. Nearly 200 million people in the U.S. so far have received COVID-19 vaccines and serious side effects have been extremely rare.
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-authorized vaccine as a condition of employment during this time of the pandemic.
If I receive an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, can I study remotely?
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.