The COVID-19 vaccine is now available, and the vaccination process is now underway. Below you will find information about the COVID-19 vaccine, including eligibility requirements, accessibility for those eligible, and Teachers College guidelines and recommendations based on the information we have now. We will continue to monitor and update this page as new information becomes available.
New York State announced expanded vaccination eligibility guidelines: As of April 6, all New York State residents ages 16 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine. This is in addition to previously eligible individuals with specified underlying medical conditions as well as “essential in-person staff” and in-person faculty at Colleges. Faculty, staff and students can check their eligibility by visiting the New York State’s Am I Eligible web tool, or by calling the New York State hotline at 1-833-697-4829.
Vaccine Access and Distribution through Columbia
As of March 17, 2021, all eligible Columbia University and Columbia University-affiliated faculty, staff and students can be vaccinated at any of the New York City or New York State public vaccination sites or at the Fort Washington Armory. Please visit th VaccineTogetherNY website for more information on receiving the vaccine.
Columbia’s vaccine supply is still limited and subject to distribution from the City and State. While the University is working to make sure vaccines are available to affiliates, it may be several weeks before the supply meets the demand. In the interim, you may wish to pursue vaccinations at other sites by visiting COVID-19 Vaccine Finder or the New York State website for availability elsewhere in the City or State.
There are several ways to make an appointment online at Columbia locations. Please remember that supply is limited and appointments are released periodically, so check these sites often:
We also encourage you to check Columbia’s COVID-19 website for updates.
As more people become vaccinated, state and federal COVID-19 public health guidelines will continue to change. Many of these guidelines, including quarantine requirements, hinge on whether an individual has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and vaccination status is likely to become an increasingly important factor in public health guidelines. It is important for the College to be able to verify vaccination status of all individuals within the community, so we are able to implement these public health requirements. It is also critical for the College to have accurate data on the extent of community protection from COVID-19 in order to make informed decisions about safe campus operations in the coming months.
For these reasons, the College will be implementing a process in the coming weeks to collect proof of vaccination from students, faculty, and staff. We will update this webpage in the coming weeks with more information, including: how to get vaccinated in the fall; deadlines for when students must be vaccinated; how to document that you have been vaccinated; and how to apply for a religious or medical exemption.
Teachers College will continue to maintain limited operations on campus for the foreseeable future. All individuals, including those who have received the vaccine, are expected to adhere to all health and safety protocols implemented by Teachers College in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes all campus access requirements, physical distancing, and other behavior guidelines. Teachers College will continue to adhere to local and state guidelines to protect the health of all faculty, staff, and students.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Please be aware that you should discuss the vaccine and any questions you have with your healthcare provider.
Yes, the College is mandating that all students be vaccinated in the Fall. The College will be implementing a process in the coming weeks to collect proof of vaccination from students, faculty, and staff. Religious and medical exemptions will be provided in accordance with New York State public health laws. We will continue to update the COVID-19 Campus Life website in the coming weeks with more information, including: how to get vaccinated in the fall; deadlines for when students must be vaccinated; how to document that you have been vaccinated; and how to apply for a religious or medical exemption.
At this time the College is strongly recommending, but not mandating, vaccination for employees to be on campus in the Fall 2021 semester. It is important for the College to be able to verify vaccination status of all individuals within the community, so we are able to implement the necessary public health requirements. It is also critical for the College to have accurate data on the extent of community protection from COVID-19 in order to make informed decisions about safe campus operations in the coming months.
For these reasons, the College will be implementing a process to collect proof of vaccination from students, faculty, and staff. We will continue to update the COVID-19 Campus Life website in the coming weeks with more information, including: how to get vaccinated in the fall; deadlines for when students must be vaccinated; how to document that you have been vaccinated; and how to apply for a religious or medical exemption. Currently the College is strongly recommending, but not mandating, that all faculty and staff be vaccinated. We will continue to assess the potential requirement of vaccinations for this group and provide updates as warranted.
Please visit the city or state web pages above to learn more about vaccination eligibility and availability.
Yes, all individuals, including those vaccinated, will need to continue to complete all campus access requirements (COVID-19 Health and Safety Training, COVID-19 Testing, and Daily Health Screening). Vaccines have not been shown to prevent asymptomatic infection, only clinical illness. It is assumed for now that individuals who have been vaccinated can still acquire the SARS-CoV-2 virus and may transmit to others. Also, the vaccines do not interfere with the results of the SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing. While experts are continuing to learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-life conditions, it is important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic.
Yes. For the foreseeable future, everyone including those who were vaccinated must continue to practice protective behaviors including wearing a face covering/mask, physical distancing, and other measures, such as avoiding nonessential travel. This is important since it is not yet known if the vaccines protect against asymptomatic infection and consequently prevent transmission to others. In addition, it will take time to achieve high vaccine uptake (estimated at 70%-80%) in order to achieve herd immunity, i.e. sufficient population level protection from transmission of the virus.
Yes, the College strongly encourages all faculty and staff to submit a copy of your vaccination card to the College upon receipt of both doses of your vaccination for thePfizer BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine, and the single dose for the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine. Monitoring the vaccine coverage within our community will allow the College to make informed decisions about the health and safety measures in the coming months. We will continue to update the COVID-19 Campus Life website in the coming weeks with more information, including: how to get vaccinated in the fall; deadlines for when students must be vaccinated; how to document that you have been vaccinated; and how to apply for a religious or medical exemption.
Yes, all individuals, including those vaccinated, will need to complete the COVID-19 testing requirement. Vaccines have not been shown to prevent asymptomatic infection, only clinical illness. It is assumed for now that individuals who have been vaccinated can still acquire the SARS-CoV-2 virus and may transmit to others. Also, the vaccines do not interfere with the results of the SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing. Please visit the COVID-19 Testing Procedures page for more information on testing requirements.
Yes. Please work with your manager if you plan to get vaccinated during the workday.
At this time, the College does not have access to any vaccine distribution programs. We are encouraging eligible persons to seek out vaccine availability through the city and state COVID-19 vaccination programs, as those are the most readily available at this time. Please see ‘Information on Vaccine Eligibility and Distribution’ for more information.
*FAQs provided by Columbia University COVID-19 Resource Guide
There are currently three vaccines that have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA). These include the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine, and the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use genetic material known as messenger RNA (often abbreviated as mRNA) that cells use to make proteins. When the vaccines are injected into the body, the mRNA enters human cells and instructs the cells to make a protein that mimics the spike proteins found on the surface of the coronavirus. These vaccine-induced proteins then stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies to fight the virus. Once produced, the antibodies latch onto the virus spike protein and prevent it from entering your cells and making you sick.
The Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine uses the more traditional virus-based technology.
Pfizer and Moderna require two doses, given three (Pfizer) to four (Moderna) weeks apart. Johnson & Johnson is one dose.
All three vaccines–Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer–completely prevented hospitalizations and deaths in clinical trials, which is why public health experts are recommending that people get the first vaccine that is available to them.
No serious side effects have been reported with any of the vaccines to date. The safety of these vaccines was determined by independent Data Safety and Monitoring Boards (DSMBs). Safety data will continue to be monitored after the vaccines begin to be used in order to determine longer term safety profiles.
Children younger than 16 years old, pregnant or nursing women, or immunocompromised individuals should consult their health care providers.
Mild to moderate side effects have been reported. These side effects include pain or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, chills, muscle aches, and headaches. Most of these side effects resolved promptly.
The vaccines are currently being distributed to various states. In New York State, all residents ages 16 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine. Faculty, staff and students can check their eligibility by visiting the New York State’s Am I Eligible web tool, or by calling the New York State hotline at 1-833-697-4829.
This has yet to be determined and is currently under study. The main focus of the vaccine studies was on determining whether the vaccines protected from getting symptomatic COVID-19 (i.e. getting sick with COVID-19).
It has been shown that people can get infected by the coronavirus but not show any symptoms, which is known as asymptomatic infection. These individuals can still transmit the virus to others. Research is under way to determine whether the vaccines will prevent asymptomatic infection and therefore reduce the risk of transmission from someone who has asymptomatic infection to others. Until this is determined, it is critically important for everyone to get vaccinated to protect themselves and to continue practicing protective behaviors, including wearing a face covering/mask and physical distancing, to protect themselves and others from catching and transmitting the virus.
The duration of protection from COVID-19 provided by these three vaccines is not known as of yet. Researchers will continue to monitor study participants to determine the duration of protection.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to be effective. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is administered three weeks after the first dose while the second dose of the Moderna vaccine is administered four weeks after the first.
Johnson & Johnson is one single dose.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine studies found that two doses were needed to optimize the immune response and provide the best protection from COVID-19. Therefore, the 2-dose regimen is strongly recommended and will be necessary for documentation of full vaccination.
No. This was not evaluated and there is no evidence that the vaccines are interchangeable. If you get a first dose of one vaccine, you should get a second dose of the same vaccine. Individuals administering the vaccine will be tracking this issue.
It typically takes a few weeks after the final dose of a vaccine for the body to build up immunity to the disease. However, it is not necessary for one to quarantine between each dose. Individuals are recommended to continue with their daily lives while following COVID-19 public health recommendations.
According to CDC guidance, second doses administered within a grace period of ≤ 4 days from the recommended date for the second dose are considered valid; however, doses administered earlier do not need to be repeated. The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, there is no maximum interval between the first and second dose for either vaccine.
Currently, the safety of any vaccine combination has not been determined and therefore the CDC advises against the mixing of COVID-19 vaccines. Research regarding the potential need for a booster injection of a COVID-19 or routine vaccination is underway.
According to the CDC, given the lack of data on the safety and efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines, the vaccine series should routinely be administered alone, with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration with any other vaccine. However, mRNA COVID-19 and other vaccines may be administered within a shorter period in situations where the benefits of vaccination are deemed to outweigh the potential unknown risks of vaccine coadministration (e.g., tetanus toxoid-containing vaccination as part of wound management, rabies vaccination for post-exposure prophylaxis, measles or hepatitis A vaccination during an outbreak) or to avoid barriers or delays to mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (e.g., in long-term care facility residents or healthcare personnel who received influenza or other vaccinations prior to/upon admission or onboarding). If mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are administered within 14 days of another vaccine, doses do not need to be repeated for either vaccine.
Yes, health officials believe that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will offer protection against the different variants of the coronavirus. Research is ongoing to further study this issue.
Yes, as per CDC recommendations, vaccination should be offered to persons regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic coronavirus infection, including a positive antibody test. For persons who experience lingering symptoms for weeks and months after diagnosis (i.e., “COVID-19 long-haulers”), vaccination is similarly considered safe and likely efficacious.
For persons with current COVID-19, vaccination should be deferred until recovery from acute illness and can be deferred up until 90 days after the current episode.
Per CDC and FDA recommendations, those who have had a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to any component of the vaccines should not be vaccinated. For those who have had a severe allergic reaction to another vaccine or injectable treatment (intramuscular, intravenous, or subcutaneous) the vaccine can still be administered; however, it is recommended that the risks be discussed with a healthcare provider and that the recipient be monitored for 30 minutes post-vaccination. For those with any other allergy (e.g. food, pollen, pets), vaccination should be offered. All individuals who received vaccines should be observed for about 15 minutes after vaccination
No, Guillain-Barre is not a contraindication for the vaccines. Individuals with such a history should discuss this with their provider.
Currently, there are no data on the safety or efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination in persons who received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of COVID-19 treatment. Therefore, it is recommended that vaccination be deferred for at least 90 days after receiving such treatment to avoid interference of the treatment with vaccine-induced immune responses.
Persons who have been identified recently as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 should defer vaccination until the quarantine period has ended to avoid exposing healthcare personnel or other persons during vaccination visits.
Currently, there are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant or breastfeeding women, though studies to collect these data are ongoing. Per CDC recommendations, pregnant or breastfeeding persons who are part of a group (e.g., healthcare worker) that is recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, may choose to be vaccinated due to their increased COVID-19 risk. A discussion with a healthcare provider can help inform this decision.
Additionally, there is no recommendation for routine pregnancy testing before receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. A consultation with a healthcare provider is recommended in making this decision.
According to CDC recommendations, the vaccine may be administered to persons with underlying medical conditions who have no contraindications to vaccination. This guidance is based on the studies that have demonstrated similar safety and efficacy profiles in persons with underlying medical conditions compared to those without such conditions.
For those who are immunocompromised, safety and efficacy of the vaccine has yet to be determined given the limited data for these groups. However, immunocompromised persons may still receive COVID-19 vaccines, with counseling, unless otherwise contraindicated given increased risk for COVID-19.
At this point in time, children under 16 years of age are not considered a priority group for early phases of vaccination given their low risk for severe disease.
Under federal law, manufacturers and distributors of COVID 19 vaccines are entitled to immunity as long as there is no willful misconduct.