President Martha E. Pollack and Provost Michael Kotlikoff issued the following statement Jan. 4:
We wish you all a very happy new year. Over the past few weeks, the country has achieved an important milestone as COVID-19 vaccine distribution has begun. We are writing today to share information regarding vaccinations for the Cornell community.
As you may know, New York state has developed a phased approach to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, with the initial current phase focused on health care workers. Cornell is working with Cayuga Health System (CHS) and the Tompkins County Health Department to identify individuals within the Cornell community who are eligible for vaccination based on the New York State Department of Health distribution criteria. The vaccines themselves are being administered by CHS.
At this time, Cornell is not requiring our employees or students to be vaccinated; however, we strongly encourage each of you to be vaccinated when you become eligible. Vaccination is key to the resolution of this global pandemic, and we hope that you all take this opportunity to protect yourselves, as well as our community.
Employees will be provided paid time off should their vaccination appointment fall during scheduled work time. This time off will include travel to and from the distribution site. 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 if you do not have health insurance.
While it is wonderful that vaccination is underway in New York state, it is important to recognize that providing the vaccine to the general population of our faculty, staff and students will take time, likely many months. We are working collaboratively with CHS and with our local health department to plan for future phases of vaccine distribution. At this time, we do not know whether we will be providing vaccine distribution on campus; that decision will be made by the NYS Department of Health. As soon as we know, we will share that information with you.
As the vaccination process continues, please remain vigilant and continue to adhere to the public health guidelines put in place to protect our community. In addition to vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends continued use of preventive measures, including face coverings, physical distancing, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoiding crowds and frequent hand washing, as the best defense against contracting and spreading the virus.
Dr. Anne Jones, Cornell Health medical director and COVID-19 public health officer, and Frank Cantone, chair of the Cornell COVID-19 Response Team, are leading the university’s vaccination efforts. As soon as we have more information to share on vaccination, you will be hearing from them. We will also be setting up an email inbox for questions that may arise.