University COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement and More for Students

May 28, 2021

Dear Students,

We write today to share important information on the University COVID-19 vaccine requirement that was previously announced on May 11.  While some additional details are still being confirmed, Columbia is committed to keeping you informed through these updates, as well as on the University COVID-19 website.  As you know, having a vaccinated population is key to a full return to in-person instruction and related activities. Your prompt completion of the vaccine requirement will help facilitate a smooth and safe return to campus this September.

Implementing the vaccine mandate
Beginning today, May 28, there is a new box under the My Checklist section of the ReOpenCU app. This is how you will know if you have met the University requirement.  Over the next few weeks, students with verified vaccine compliant uploads will start to see the check mark appear. Students who received their COVID-19 vaccine from Columbia Health (Lerner Hall, Morningside) or Student Health on Haven (CUIMC) will automatically have their records updated.

For students who received or will receive their vaccine elsewhere and need to submit vaccine documentation, we ask you to begin this process as soon as possible (and for incoming students, as soon as your UNI is active). Students must have vaccine documentation uploaded to their respective Patient Portal no later than August 2.  By submitting early we can reach out to anyone whose submission is not compliant and provide sufficient time to address before the fall term.  In mid-August, those without the box checked will have a redpass on the ReOpenCU app and will not be able to access campus until they have met the vaccine requirement.  If you have already submitted your vaccine information, there is nothing further to do.

Getting vaccinated at Columbia
For those in the NY area, you can be vaccinated on campus at no out-of-pocket cost to you. There are vaccines available at both the Morningside and CUIMC campuses.

For the Lerner Hall location, use the Columbia Health Patient Portal. For the Haven Avenue location, use the CUIMC Student Health on Haven portal. For other locations, visit or if you use ColumbiaDoctors providers, log in to your Connect account.

Uploading your documentation
To verify you have been vaccinated, please upload a picture/copy of your CDC card, WHO booklet, or a physician letter containing details of your vaccinations. Please allow at least 15 business days for processing and be sure to submit no later than August 2, 2021.  All documentation provided is subject to review. Should an issue be found with the documentation submitted, you will be notified and provided with additional instructions on how to proceed. The upload process applies to both those that have been vaccinated and those that may be requesting a religious or medical exemption.

Morningside Students: Please submit via the Columbia Health Patient PortalInstructions are available to help you submit.

CUIMC Students:

  • Incoming School of Nursing students: Please upload your documentation to the Student Health on Haven portal.
  • All other CUIMC students, if you have not already uploaded your documentation, please wait as we are transitioning to a new patient portal. More information about that process - including when you can start uploading your documentation - will follow and will be added to our website.

International Students
Columbia recognizes that some international students may not be able to access vaccines or complete a vaccine series before coming to New York this fall.  We will have vaccines available to administer in the first week you are on campus.  More details on how to be vaccinated on arrival and how the University will ensure you have access to housing and classes while you go through the vaccine process will be shared in July.  If you arrive in the United States earlier, please get your vaccine at the site closest to you.

Masking policy on campus
Columbia University remains focused on the health and well-being of our community. While the new CDC and NY State guidelines do allow for reduced masking in certain instances, the University will continue to enforce an indoor masking policy (even if you are vaccinated) and expect to have that in place until at least early September. However, fully vaccinated individuals may remove their masks outdoors on Columbia campuses, if they choose. We also are continuing to enforce physical distancing of six feet indoors.  We do, however, expect that for the fall term all classrooms will be at full occupancy. In any instance, a person’s choice to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting must be respected and no assumptions made as to the reason for it.

Gathering size expansions
Recognizing that a growing number in the University community have been vaccinated and that we have been able to maintain a low COVID-19 positivity testing rate on campus, Columbia is increasing the gathering size limitations:

  • Non-academic, including administrative: indoors 25, outdoors 50
  • Academic: no limits except six-foot distancing and face coverings

These gathering size limits are subject to modification as public health conditions change.

Thank you
Throughout the past year and a half, you have kept the Columbia Community Health Compact, whether you were in New York or elsewhere. A vaccinated Columbia community is the next step in our commitment to each other and keeping Columbia healthy. On behalf of our colleagues, we acknowledge that the pandemic has created many changes and sacrifices on your part, but our primary goal is to keep you and our entire campus safe. We are excited that in just a few months, the University will begin to return to what it looked like before March 2020.

Thank you for your flexibility and willingness to support these efforts. For more information on the vaccine requirements, extensive FAQs, and additional resources, please visit the University COVID-19 website.

Be well,

Melanie J Bernitz, MD, MPH
Senior Vice President, Columbia Health
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine (in the Center for Family and Community Medicine)

Marcy Ferdschneider, DO
Executive Director, Student Health on Haven, CUIMC
Assistant Professor of Medicine at CUIMC