FAQs

FAQs


Immunizations FAQs


Teachers College, as mandated by New York State Public Health Law, requires that students born on or after January 1, 1957 provide proof of immunity to Measles, Mumps, and Rubella before initial registration. All students are also required to document a decision regarding the meningococcal meningitis vaccine. Failure to comply with the requirements will result in a hold on the student's record and will prevent students from registering for the upcoming semester.

 

Yes, you may e-mail your questions to health-immunization@tc.edu. We usually respond within 1-2 business days.

 

Immunization documentation is processed in the order in which it is received. An email will be sent to your TC Gmail once your documentation has been reviewed. You will be advised if you need to provide additional information, inoculations, or if you are fully compliant. You can also check your compliance status in the Admitted Student Website upon logging-in.

 

For a full explanation of the ways to submit your records, please click HERE.

Vaccination Locations:
Medical Services at Columbia Health: (212) 854-7426
John Jay Hall, 4th Floor, 114th & Amsterdam
Call to make an appointment.

MMR vaccinations are free for students who have paid the Columbia Health Program fee at this location, and Meningitis immunizations for college students are available for a nominal rate.

MMR immunization for college students is also available for FREE at:

  • Fort Green HealthCenter: (718) 643-3767
    295 Flatbush Avenue Extension between Willoughby Street and Albee Square
    Monday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m
  • Tremont Health Center: (718) 960-0349
    1826 Arthur Ave. - 1st floor, Bronx, NY, 10457
    (between Cross Bronx Expressway & Tremont Ave.) Monday, Tuesday and Thursday:  8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
  • Corona Health Center: (718) 476-7645
    34-33 Junction Boulevard - 3rd floor, Queens, NY, 11372 (between 34th Ave. & 34th Road)
    Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 AM – 2:30 PM

Click here for NYC Department of Health Immunization Walk-in Clinics.

For more information please visit the New York City Bureau of Immunization website.

We recommend that you visit your local physician and request a blood test known as a Titer. This test determines your immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella. If you are not immune, you should get vaccinated before you arrive on campus. Your physician should complete the university's immunization form for submission.

We will review the documentation to see if you meet the New York State requirements. Please include the day, month, year, and dose administered. Documentation must include physician or other health care provider's signature and stamp. Please complete the top portion of the university's form and attach the supporting documentation to it.

No. Please have immunization documents translated and notarized before submission.

Immunization forms can be found online at here. Students should complete the top portion of the form. Once the physician or health care provider has completed Section A OR Section B, we recommend that you make a copy for your records before submitting proof of immunity.

Yes, there are two ways to document and request exemption from the immunization requirement.

  1. Medical Exemption: You may provide the Office of Insurance & Immunization Records with a letter from your physician requesting a medical exemption from further immunization. You will then be notified in writing if either a temporary or permanent exemption has been granted. If a temporary exemption is given, you will be expected to complete the requirement at the exemption's expiration.
  2. Religious Exemption: Most religious groups which object to immunizations will provide you with a standard form indicating the objection. You may also submit a letter from your congregation explaining the religious basis of your objection. To determine what documentation you must provide, you may email your question to health-immunization@tc.edu or visit the Insurance and Immunization Records Office in 155 Thorndike Hall. The office is open Monday to Thursdays from 9:00 am - 6:00 pm and on Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.

If you cannot provide documentation, we recommend that you take a blood test known as a titer to determine your immunity. If you are immune then you will not need to take additional action. If not, you will be notified by email of the inoculations you will need to become compliant.

Health Services does not provide individual Measles shots, but they can provide you with the MMR booster shot, by appointment.  The cost of the vaccine and appointment vary based on Health Services enrollment.

 

If you submitted documentation of immunity, and still received an email regarding your partial or non-compliant status, it is likely that the information does not fulfill all of New York State's requirements. Many students who have received a single dose of either the Measles or MMR vaccine are unaware that the NY STATE PUBLIC HEALTH LAW REQUIRES TWO DOSES OF THE MEASLES VACCINE. Students in this category must obtain a second dose of the MMR vaccine to be fully compliant. Health Services offers the MMR booster shot by appointment at the cost of $50 or for free if you have paid the Columbia Health Fee. If you are not sure why you are not compliant, you may contact us at health-immunization@tc.edu or at (212) 678-3006.

You are not compliant by New York State standards without the second measles shot. We will place a 'hold' on your future registration if you fail to get the second measles inoculation. Please remember to provide the documentation of your second measles shot to the staff in the Office of Insurance and Immunization Records in 155 Thorndike Hall so that your records are accurately updated.

 

As of February 2015, you may access your Immunization Records through the myTC Portal by following the directions below.

Step 1: After logging into my.tc.edu, click the “TC Services” tab at the top of the page.

Step 2: Click “Student Records” at the bottom of the page, under “Enrollment & Student Services.”

Step 3: On the next page, click “View Immunization Records.”

Step 4: Again, click “View Immunization Records.”

Step 5: A new tab will open with your records.  You may need to make sure you do not have a pop up blocker enabled.

Step 6: Print this page of the browser for a hard copy, or opt to save it as a PDF.  

 

Students are provided with a report, on Teachers College letterhead, that confirms the student has submitted his or her Meningitis decision and/or MMR immunization records, along with the dates of immunizations.

Insurance FAQs


If you are living in the residence halls and/or taking 12 billable credits, and/or International student you will automatically be enrolled in Columbia Student Health Insurance. If neither applies to you, you may enroll via the link found on the myTC Portal. For instructions on how to enroll please refer to our How to Enroll page.

 

Domestic students may only petition to waive Columbia Student Health Insurance if you have an alternative comparable insurance. Please refer to the criteria for the alternative comparable insurance here. If you meet the criteria, you will be able to petition to waive through a link on the MyTC portal. Once you have filled in your information on MyTC portal, you will only receive written correspondence (e-mail) from our office if you have missing information (e.g. need a picture of your insurance card, copy of benefits, etc.) or if your plan is found to not be comparable. 

Please note that the Columbia Health & Related Services Fee cannot be waived under any circumstances. For more information on the Columbia Health & Related Services Fee, please refer to the related FAQ below.

 

Yes. Waivers are only valid for one full academic year (September - August).

Should your alternative coverage extend past one full academic year, and you meet criteria for automatic enrollment, you will need to submit a request to waive again.

No. You cannot have the Columbia Student Health Insurance without the Columbia Health & Related Services Fee. Due to the structure of the Columbia Student Health Insurance plan, your primary care physicians operate through the Columbia Health & Related Services Fee. As the plan is a referral-based policy, all visits must go through Columbia Health (Medical or Counseling & Psychological Services) first.

The period of coverage extends from August 15 - August 14 each year. For more information, please refer to our Period of Coverage and Health Fees page. 

 

Unfortunately, once you enroll in the Columbia Student Health Insurance, you will no longer be able to use your current primary care physician*. However, you will be able to choose a new primary care physician within Columbia Health (Medical Services). 

*You may be able to continue using your primary care physician if they are outside of a 50-mile radius from Columbia University AND participate in Aetna as an insurance provider.  

DENTAL INFORMATION

Columbia Student Health Insurance includes one cleaning and set of x-rays per academic year at these participating locations. Please contact them for an appointment. A $20 copay will be requested at the time of visit. 

VISION INFORMATION

We offer a Vision One Discount Program that offers discounts on optics (prescription and non-prescription). For more information please refer to our Vision Care page.

The Columbia Health & Related Services Fee is in place so that students have easy access to a physician, nutritionist, and a psychological counselor, for a per semester fee (Fall and Spring). This fee is mandatory for all full-time students (12 billable credits) or students living in the residence halls, or International students at Teachers College and may not be waived. Full-time students who waive the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan are still required to pay the Columbia Health Fee and are automatically enrolled. 


For elligible part-time students, the Columbia Health & Related Services Fee is not required. If you would like to opt into the Columbia Health Fee, to have access to these great benefits, that is an option for you. Please contact our office for the appropriate enrollment form.

One of our efforts is to increase information access as well as support the Columbia University Environmental Stewardship Plans.  As part of these strategies Aetna will no longer automatically mail insurance cards.  We are encouraging students to add the Aetna Navigator function to their phone for 24/7 digital access to their insurance cards.  Students will also be able to print a copy of their insurance card 24/7 using the Aetna Navigator website and will also have the option to call Aetna Customer Service to request an insurance card be mailed.

 

Click HERE for PDF instructions on accessing your digital insurance card. 

Yes, you can enroll via the link found on MyTC portal. For directions on enrolling, please refer to our How to Enroll page.

Yes. If you are enrolled in the Columbia Student Health Insurance, you will need a referral from your primary care physician (PCP) at Columbia Health to see specialists. Referrals are for your diagnosis, not for your doctor (e.g. if you have a referral to get a mole checked and the dermatologist checks and finds a rash, you will need another referral to check the rash). 

Referrals for specialists/diagnoses are valid for the entire calendar year and can easily be renewed by consulting with your PCP at Columbia Health.

All proof of insurance coverage can be obtained through Aetna. Please call their customer support line at 1-800-859-8471.

Under the Columbia University Student Health Insurance Plan, students are covered for travel abroad under the On-Call International program. For all information concerning travel medical insurance, please view the Travel Assistance Services section on the Aetna Student Health page

MEDICAL BILL CLAIM PROCEDURE 
Please submit your claims to the following address: 
Aetna Student Health 
P.O. Box 981106 
El Paso, TX 79998 

On occasion, the claims investigation process will require additional information in order to properly adjudicate the claim. This investigation will be handled directly by Aetna. 

Customer Service Representatives are available 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, for any questions. 

Please note: 

1.     Bills must be submitted within 120 days from the date of treatment. 
2.     Payment for Covered Medical Expenses will be made directly to the hospital or physician concerned, unless bill receipts and proof of payment are submitted. 
3.     If itemized medical bills are available at the time the claim form is submitted, attach them to the claim form. Subsequent medical bills should be mailed promptly to the above address. 
4.     You will receive an “Explanation of Benefits” when your claims are processed. The Explanation of Benefits will explain how your claim was processed, according to the benefits of your Student Accident and Sickness Insurance Plan.
 
PRESCRIPTION DRUG CLAIM PROCEDURE
For prescriptions, all claims will need to be submitted to Aetna Pharmacy Management. More information about the process can be obtained by calling 800-238-6279. The form can be foundhere.

HOW TO APPEAL A CLAIM 
In the event a Covered Person disagrees with how a claim was processed, he/she may request 
a review of the decision. The Covered Person’s request must include why he/she disagrees with 
the way the claim was processed. The request must also include any additional information that 
supports the claim (e.g., medical records, Physician’s office notes, operative reports, 
Physician’s letter of medical necessity, etc.). Please submit all requests to: 

Aetna 
P.O. Box 14464 
Lexington, KY 40512 
 
Or call in the appeal to Customer Service using the toll-free telephone number shown on the 
member ID card: (800) 859 - 8471 

For more detailed information please refer to our Prescription Drug Claim Procedure web page.

You can add your spouse, domestic partner, or children as a dependent. We will need a government-issued marriage and/or domestic partnership license for enrollment for your partner. If you want to enroll your children, we will need a copy of your child's birth certificate. 

All documents must be submitted in English. If the original document is not in English, it must betranslated and notarized. 

Please refer to our Dependent Coverage webpage for additional information.

 

  • If you already waived the Columbia Student Health Insurance for the Autumn Semester, the waiver will be extended to the Spring Semester unless you notify our office about a “change of life event” that qualifies you for late enrollment.  Qualifying change of life events include:
    • Surpassing the maximum age for coverage as a dependent under a parent’s health insurance plan. 
    • Termination of health insurance under a partner’s or employer’s plan. 
  • Students who wish to enroll in one of the Columbia Student Health Insurance plans following a change of life event must email health-immunization@tc.edu to submit a Petition to Enroll form to our office.

New International Student Insurance FAQs


Many international students have struggled with inadequate health insurance that resulted in catastrophic health outcomes and extraordinary costs, which can lead to lower levels of academic success, and difficulties with retention.  The lack of adequate coverage has introduced unexpected barriers to achieving academic and scholarly pursuits.

Despite past efforts of Admissions, Insurance & Immunization Records, and Columbia Health to provide clear information to incoming students, we have found that international students are frequently targeted by companies offering lower rates for supposedly equivalent, but actually sub-standard, plans. Many international students are unfamiliar with the US Health Care System and try to access care using these limited non-Columbia Plans.

This requirement reinforces Columbia’s commitment to protecting the health of the student community through on-site access to high-quality health services and provision of insurance coverage to supplement on-campus resources as necessary.

This requirement is effective beginning the 2020 - 2021 academic year.  The plan coverage begins August 15 and runs concurrently through August 14 of the following calendar year.

 

Upon registering for classes, your myTC e-bill is automatically charged for the Columbia Health Fee and the Insurance Premium.

Exceptions may be granted under rare circumstances to international students who are covered by a U.S.-based, employer-sponsored, group health plan (as a primary, spouse, or dependent), or students that are short term visitors to campus. Please contact Insurance & Immunization Records for more details. These requests are reviewed on a case by case basis.

Previously, international students who requested waivers with plans that met the waiver criteria were permitted to waive the Columbia Plan.  Audits of these waivers revealed that many of these plans appeared to meet the criteria on the surface, but did not actually fully meet the criteria, thus providing inadequate coverage.

Yes!  The Columbia Plan works with the on-campus services.  Your care begins on-campus and you will be provided a referral for any off-campus services.

Yes!  The Aetna network has providers that speak many languages.  You can search for a provider that speaks your preferred language using the Doc Find feature on the Aetna Student Health website.

In addition to comprehensive coverage within the United States, the Columbia Plan provides global coverage, giving you access both locally as well as while traveling.  This benefit is unique to the Columbia Plan and designed specifically to support our students.  We encourage you to learn more about this benefit as well as how the plan will support your health and well-being while studying at Columbia.  Contact Insurance & Immunization Records to discuss the specifics of using your coverage outside of New York.

Unlike domestic part-time students, international part-time students are often focused solely on their studies and are not working in positions that provide health insurance.  As a result, part-time international students are not likely to have the level of coverage that truly supports their potential health needs while at Columbia.

No.  Premiums are billed by semester, so if you graduate in December you will only be charged for the fall term and your coverage will end on December 31.

No, Teachers College, Columbia University does not benefit at all financially from this policy. The University collects the premium and then forwards it to Aetna, the insurance provider.  We use this system, as it better allows students to pay for health insurance using available financial aid options.

Please contact Insurance & Immunization Records via email at health-immunization@tc.edu.

Flu Vaccination FAQ’s


TC and Columbia Health have long recognized that getting vaccinated against the influenza (flu) is the best way to protect ourselves and our family, friends, and colleagues from the flu. Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from the flu, but also to help conserve potentially limited healthcare resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommend getting an annual influenza vaccine, or “flu shot”, as the first and most important step in protecting against influenza. The flu vaccine is a protective measure-- you cannot get the flu from it. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a flu vaccine provides individual health benefits, including keeping you from getting sick with flu, reducing the severity of your illness if you do get a different strain of the flu, and reducing your risk of a flu-associated hospitalization.

Any individual taking classes at Teachers College, and who wishes to access campus, is required to be vaccinated against influenza.  Columbia Health is providing flu vaccines to TC students free of charge. The flu vaccine is mandatory for students coming on to campus and must be obtained before February 28, 2021 or prior to visiting campus 

For those over 65 years of age, only the regular dose flu vaccine is available through Columbia Health at this time. For those wishing to get the high dose vaccine, please check with your primary care clinician or local pharmacy. 

If you are a full-time or part-time employee, but taking classes at TC, please go through the employee pathway link to access campus.  If you are a student employee (GA/TA/RA; Admin Fellow; Work Study Student), please go through the student pathway link to access campus.

Flu vaccines are now available in Lerner Hall, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Appointments are required to ensure physical distancing and most can easily make an appointment via the online patient portal. Appointments are being added regularly so please check back if your first choice of date and time is not available. Generally, appointments are available 10-14 days in advance.  There is no cost to TC students who receive the Flu vaccination through Columbia Health. 

Accessibility

The flu clinic location is wheelchair accessible. If you require sign-language interpreting services to communicate with our health care providers or large print or electronic information, please contact Disability Services at disability@columbia.edu or (212) 854-2388. 

Students on the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan can get a flu vaccine at their local pharmacy or primary care provider. There is no co-payment, unless you request a high-dose flu vaccine.  

Remember to upload your documentation to the MyTC Portal preferably before arriving to campus.

Both the flu virus and coronavirus (which causes COVID-19) are causes of contagious upper respiratory illnesses. The flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, which can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, feeling tired, and headache. The severity of symptoms can vary, and those with the flu or a mild case of COVID-19 may be able to recuperate at home. One notable difference is that COVID-19 may also include loss of taste or smell, which is not a symptom associated with the flu. Testing may be necessary to determine which virus is causing illness. There is an antiviral treatment available for the flu, but not one widely available for COVID-19. The mortality rate for COVID-19 is also greater than that of the flu.

The amount of time it can take between when a person is exposed to either virus and when they could experience symptoms is similar for flu (1-4 days) and coronavirus (2-14 days). However, people exposed to coronavirus may experience more of a delay between exposure to symptoms and be more contagious than those with the flu. A person with COVID-19 may also be contagious for a longer period of time  (still being studied, but have been found to be contagious up to 10 days after testing positive) than a person with the flu (for about 7 days, but most contagious during first 3-4 days). 

Sources: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htmhttps://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-vs-flu/art-20490339 

Yes; and it is not yet known how common it will be for individuals to have both at the same time, or if the illnesses will be more severe if they occur together. Because the symptoms are similar, it may make it hard to tell whether one or both viruses might be causing illness. 

Sources: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htmhttps://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-vs-flu/art-20490339 

No, the flu vaccine will only reduce the risk of getting sick from the flu or reducing the severity of the flu if you do get it. The flu vaccine will also not increase the risk of getting COVID-19. And, as more people get the flu vaccine, the potential burden on health resources is lessened which allows for health care services to be reserved for other issues. 

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2020-2021.htm#anchor_1591372261934

Yes. The steps you take to prevent one also help prevent the other. Wearing face coverings, keeping a 6ft physical distance, washing and sanitizing hands regularly, and staying home if not feeling well are all steps that help prevent the spread of flu and coronavirus.

Yes, there are different tests to detect whether a person has strain A or B of the influenza virus and to detect if a person has the SARS-COV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19).

Yes, you can safely get the flu vaccine. Flu vaccines may also be available at your health care provider’s office, your local department of health, or even pharmacies. The CDC has issued pandemic guidance for vaccines to health care professionals, so you can ask your health care provider if they are administering vaccines with that guidance.  

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2020-2021.htm#anchor_1591372261934

Add our procedures for requesting a medical or religious exemption

  • Get a flu vaccine!
  • Use good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleansers are equally effective.
  • Try to avoid casually touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact, such as hugging or kissing, with others who are ill.
  • Avoid sharing food, utensils, cups, and water bottles.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • If you become ill, stay home and limit your contact with others to keep from exposing them.
  • Disinfect surfaces with a household cleaner, focusing on light switches, handles, telephones, doorknobs, and other surfaces people touch frequently.
  • Remain in your residence hall or at home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have fever (without the use of medications that reduce fever, like Motrin or Tylenol).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued universal guidance recommending all individuals six (6) months of age or older receive the seasonal flu shot. It is especially important for those in the following high-risk groups to receive a shot due to risk of serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk of developing flu-related complications:

  • Pregnant women
  • Children younger than five (5) years of age
  • People 50 years of age or older
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (asthma, diabetes, etc.)
  • People who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from the flu, including:
    • Healthcare workers
    • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications of the flu
    • Household contacts or caregivers of children less than six (6) months old

The flu vaccine is generally safe and effective, and utilizes an inactivated flu vaccine, which contains killed viruses. The flu vaccine protects against multiple flu viruses.

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