Booster Mandate Compliance

General information and FAQ regarding Columbia's COVID-19 vaccine booster mandate. 

As of May 5, 2022: The primary series plus one booster will be required for all students registering for the Fall 2022 semester.

Individuals who wish to continue with the exemption process: please be alert for additional messages on submission of documentation.

Columbia's current vaccination mandate has expanded to require booster doses for all faculty, staff and students who meet the criteria for eligibility. 

See Vaccine Documentation Upload Instructions for guidance in submitting your booster documentation.


In general, individuals are eligible for a booster five months after the last dose of their initial Pfizer or Moderna series (or WHO-authorized vaccine) or two months after the initial J&J vaccination. 

Eligible individuals may choose which vaccine they receive as a booster dose. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Accepted booster vaccines

Only FDA-authorized vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J) are accepted boosters regardless of whether your primary series was FDA-authorized only vaccines, WHO-authorized only vaccines, or a combination of both.

WHO-authorized vaccines are NOT accepted as a booster dose.

Pfizer-BioNTech booster required for non-FDA-authorized/ WHO-authorized primary series recipients

Per CDC guidance as of Jan 13, 2022, individuals who received non-FDA-authorized/ WHO-authorized must receive a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

Individuals who received a J&J or Moderna booster:

  • on or before January 17, 2022: will be considered compliant.
  • after January 17, 2022: may be considered non-compliant. These individuals should submit documentation of their booster to receive guidance on next steps.

Frequenty Asked Questions

If you are eligible to get a booster, you can receive the vaccine after testing positive for COVID-19 when:

  • are not symptomatic,
  • have completed your isolation period, and
  • did NOT receive monoclonal antibody treatment.

When can I get the booster if I received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of COVID-19 treatment?

At least 90 days after receiving the treatment.

Currently, there are no data on the safety or efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination in persons who received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma for prevention or treatment of COVID-19. Therefore, it is recommended that vaccination (primary series or booster) be deferred for at least 90 days after receiving such interventions to avoid interference with vaccine-induced immune responses.

Generally, you can receive your booster dose as soon as you have been cleared to end your isolation period after diagnosis with COVID-19.

Any delay beyond the required timeframe will need to be reviewed by Columbia's medical exemption committee to determine appropriateness. Please submit a medical exemption request form along with supporting documentation from your healthcare provider as soon as possible. 

Morningside and Manhattanville Students: Upload to the Columbia Health Patient Portal.

CUIMC Students: Upload to the Student Health on Haven Patient Portal.

Faculty and Staff: Email to [email protected].

The CDC recommends primary and booster vaccination for all individuals aged 5 and older, regardless of prior history of symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19. While the risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection is lower after a previous infection, waning immunity over time may increase the risk. In addition, numerous studies have shown that vaccination following previous infection enhances the immune response, and growing epidemiologic evidence indicates that vaccination following infection reduces the risk of subsequent infection, including decreasing the risk of infection from future SARS-CoV-2 variants, as well as for protection against severe illness and hospitalization. Furthermore, booster vaccination has been shown to reduce the infectiousness of the person who gets infected, thereby reduces the risk for transmission, thus, benefiting family, friends, and the community in addition to the individual.

Data from multiple studies indicate that the currently approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the US can be given safely to people previously infected by SARS-CoV-2. People with known current SARS-CoV-2 infection should defer their vaccination until, 1) recovery from the acute illness (if symptoms were present) and 2) completion of recommended isolation period. This recommendation for vaccination applies to people who experience SARS-CoV-2 infection before receiving any vaccine dose and those who experience SARS-CoV-2 infection after the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but before receipt of subsequent doses.


A booster received less than 5 months after the primary Pfizer and Moderna series will be accepted, although an interval of 5 months or greater is preferred.

28 days.

The minimum interval between receiving the final dose of a non-FDA-authorized/ WHO-authorized vaccine and getting an FDA-authorized booster is at least 28 daysAdditionally, only Pfizer-BioNTech is accepted as a booster dose for those who received a non-FDA-authorized/ WHO-authorized primary series.

For example, an individual who received 2 Sinopharm vaccines or 1 Sinopharm and 1 Pfizer over the summer must wait at least 28 days before receiving a Pfizer-BioNTech booster.


Only the Pfizer vaccine will be accepted for a booster to follow the non-FDA-authorized vaccine primary series.

For example, if an individual received 3 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, a Pfizer-BioNTech booster dose would also need to be administered at least 28 days after the third Sinopharm dose.


Only FDA-authorized vaccines will be accepted for a booster. Additionally, it is recommended the individuals receive an mRNA (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) for their booster dose.


A booster following 2 doses of an FDA-authorized vaccine is required regardless of previous vaccination with non-FDA authorized vaccines. The preferred interval between a 2-dose FDA-authorized primary vaccine series and the booster is 5 months.


A J&J booster is acceptable, though a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster is preferred unless an individual has contraindications to any component of the mRNA vaccines.

After completion of a primary series where all doses were FDA-authorized, an individual must receive an FDA-authorized vaccine as their booster in order to comply with the booster mandate.

If any dose of the primary series was non-FDA-authorized/WHO-authorized, the booster must be a Pfizer-BioNTech dose at least 28 days after the completion of the primary series.