CUNY to Require Proof of Vaccination for Fall '21 In-Person Students; Staff, Faculty Must Submit Vaccine Proof or Negative Test

Students scheduled to attend any class on campus in Fall 2021 will be required to be vaccinated, pending full FDA approval of the COVID-19 vaccines. Students participating in other on-campus activities will be required to show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Please keep this in mind when registering for Fall 2021 classes. While the governor set the mandate, it is the CUNY Board of Trustees that sets the policy, which provides more details as well as guidelines for religious and medical exemptions. READ CUNY's FAQs on the vaccine mandate here. Bookmark this page to access the most current info about the vaccine mandate for the Fall 2021 semester.

Need a vaccine? Get on the bus at Lehman College! Lehman College is an NYC vaccination site and offers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on its VAX BUS from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. every day, now through Friday, August 13. You can also get vaccinated from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, August 15. No appointment is necessary. The site, managed by SOMOS, is located outside Gate 7 at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, N.Y. You do not need a license or proof of citizenship. Here's what you'll need to get the shot.  

Are you a student who already has proof of your vaccine?
 Upload it into CUNYfirst. You'll be entered into a giveaway for $100 cash gift card and other prizes! You must submit your vaccination documentation by Aug. 10, 2021.

All employees can start uploading their information today by signing in to CUNYfirst and clicking on the Vaccine Verification link. To complete your vaccination information, you will need the date of your second shot for Pfizer and Moderna or the date of your single shot for Johnson & Johnson; a scan or photograph of your CDC COVID-19 vaccination record card (or an equivalent document if you received your vaccination outside the U.S.), and, if you have the NY State Excelsior Pass app, a scan or photograph of your pass on your mobile device. We are working with NYS Excelsior to link the pass to CUNY for validation purposes. 

Please note that employees returning the week of August 16 will need to upload their vaccination verification documents by Friday, August 6, showing they will be fully vaccinated by the 16th. For those starting later than August 16, the deadlines for uploading are 10 days before the first week you are due back. For instance, if you are starting the week of August 23, the deadline is August 13. These voluntary submissions will facilitate your access to a campus or office in August and throughout the fall semester. 

If you are not fully vaccinated or do not wish to disclose your status, you will be able to opt out of testing if you have an approved request for a fully remote accommodation. Approved or pending requests need to be indicated on the Vaccine Information Page in CUNYfirst and will be verified by campus Human Resources offices after they are submitted. 

For a visual guide to submitting information to CUNYfirst, please visit here. For general information on getting back to working in person, please refer to this FAQ. If you still have questions, please consult your HR office. If you have a technical problem, please contact your campus or office help desk for assistance. All CUNY employees — vaccinated, unvaccinated or undisclosed — are required to follow the University’s Guidelines for CUNY Fall 2021 Reopening Where Not Everyone is Fully Vaccinated.


COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate FAQ

Q: Once the CUNY policy takes effect, do I need to have received a COVID-19 vaccine to take classes at Lehman College this fall?
A: You’ll need to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to attend class on the Lehman College campus starting Fall 2021. Students participating in other on-campus activities will be required to show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Q: The FDA has only granted emergency approval of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. How can you require students to show proof of a vaccine that hasn’t received full approval?
At this time, decisions regarding whether or not to mandate proof of vaccination lies with CUNY’s Board of Trustees. Other institutions across the country already require their students to present proof of vaccination before they may attend in-person classes. While Gov. Cuomo has indicated that CUNY and SUNY students must be vaccinated before they can return to in-person classes this fall, such a requirement will only be mandated once the FDA grants full approval to one of the vaccines. 

Q: What if I am taking classes on campus in the fall and I’m not fully vaccinated by the time the Fall 2021 semester starts?
A: In addition to the vaccine mandate, CUNY is developing a vigorous testing protocol that will be in place for those students who are not vaccinated if, for example, they have received a religious or medical exemption or are not fully vaccinated by the beginning of the fall semester.

Q: I've already received my vaccine. Can I submit proof of my COVID-19 vaccination now?
A: Yes! you can upload your information by signing in to CUNYfirst and clicking on the Vaccination Verification portal. You will need the dates of your two shots for Pfizer and Moderna or the date of your single Johnson & Johnson shot, the location where you got your vaccine, a scan or photograph of your CDC COVID-19 vaccination record card, and, if you have the NY State Excelsior Pass app, a scan or photograph of your pass on your mobile device. CUNY is working with NYS Excelsior to link the pass for validation purposes. International students who have received vaccination outside the United States will also be able to upload in CUNYfirst their verification documentation, as long as the vaccine received was approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). For a visual step-by-step guide to submitting information to CUNYfirst, click here.

Q: What if I can’t receive the vaccine for medical or religious reasons?
A: You can submit a request for a medical exemption or religious exception, along with supporting documentation, at CUNYfirst. Students requesting an exemption for medical reasons will be required to submit a COVID-19 Vaccine Medical Exemption Request Form signed by a healthcare provider. Students requesting an exception for religious reasons will be required to submit a written statement explaining how immunization conflicts with the student’s religious beliefs. Exemptions and exceptions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and are not automatically granted. For more information, visit cuny.edu/vaxfaq.

Q: I am an international student, and I did not receive one of the vaccines approved in the U.S.; however, I am fully vaccinated. Will you accept proof of having received this non-U.S.-approved vaccine?
A: If you’ve received an accepted vaccine, even it is from overseas, proof of vaccination will be adequate.    

Q: Where can I get the vaccine?
A: Lehman College is a New York City vaccination site and offers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on its VAX BUS every day, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., through Friday, August 13. You can also get vaccinated from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, August 15. No appointment is necessary. The bus is located outside Gate 7 at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx, N.Y. Aside from Lehman, there are multiple places across the city and state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. For a list of locations, check out NYC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Finder.

Q: Which vaccine is offered at the Lehman College site?
A: The Lehman College site offers the Pfizer vaccine, which will require you to receive two shots, approximately three weeks apart. It is important that you follow up with your second shot. 

Q: Do I need one shot of the vaccine or two shots?
This depends on which type of vaccine you receive. Two of the vaccines available in the U.S—Pfizer and Moderna—require two shots approximately three weeks apart. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one shot. Therefore, if you receive only one shot of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, you are neither fully vaccinated nor fully protected against the virus; you are only fully vaccinated two weeks after you receive the second shot. 

Q: Who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in New York?
A: The FDA has granted emergency approval for any child, age 12+, to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which is available at the Lehman College vaccine site. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still awaiting FDA emergency approval for their use in children ages 12-17. Currently Moderna an Johnson & Johnson vaccines can only be administered to individuals 18+. 


Send Us Your Selfies!

Lehman’s Best Answer Your Vax Questions

In this Lehman College discussion and Q&A, we answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and put common myths to rest. The expert panel includes Sandra Lindsay '10, a nurse, Lehman alumna, and the first person in the U.S. to take the COVID-19 vaccine in a non-trial setting.

More Vaccine Facts

Can you choose which vaccine you receive? Does it cause side effects? And how long does the vaccination process take, anyway? We know you have questions about everything from the science behind the vaccine to the logistics of getting it. Northwell Health, New York State's largest healthcare provider, offers these and other helpful answers. Visit their website for more info. New Yorkers can call the New York State Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4VAX (1-833-697-4829) with any questions.  

Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Because there is currently no cure for COVID-19, prevention is our best strategy. The development of COVID-19 vaccines is an important step in helping minimize the effects of this potentially deadly virus. Vaccines work by training your immune system to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. By triggering an immune system response to a virus through a vaccine, your body is better equipped to destroy these disease-causing microbes in the future should you be exposed to COVID-19.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective?

Yes. The FDA is responsible for protecting public health by ensuring the safety and efficacy of drugs, including vaccines. Learn more about the rigorous scientific and regulatory processes in place to facilitate the development and ensure the safety, effectiveness, and quality of the COVID-19 vaccines.

How was the COVID-19 vaccine developed so quickly?

Scientists began work on the COVID-19 vaccine in January 2020. Dedicated vaccine funding helped move vaccine candidates through the pre-clinical/clinical assessments and trials both quickly and thoughtfully. This has enabled researchers to advance into phase 3 clinical trials (testing the vaccine on large groups of people to evaluate safety and effectiveness) in six months instead of the typical two years. The vaccine was mass-produced before the clinical studies were complete to save time.

Can various types of COVID-19 vaccines be given to the same person?

No. If you start with one manufacturer, you’ll receive the same manufacturer for the second shot.

Will I get to choose which vaccine I receive?

Because of limited supply and complex logistics, medical professionals will determine the vaccine being administered. The CDC generally advises that you take the vaccine available to you as long as it has been issued EUA or approved by the FDA.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause any side effects?

Side effects are a normal sign that your body is building protection. Some people may experience more symptoms with the COVID-19 vaccine compared to other vaccinations, such as the flu shot. The second or booster dose can produce symptoms more severe than experienced with the first dose. The most common side effect is muscle soreness or aching in the arm, which will resolve without treatment. Other common side effects after vaccination may include:

  • Swelling or redness where the vaccine was administered
  • Muscle and joint achiness elsewhere
  • Low-grade fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

These side effects are expected, not serious, and will resolve with time. If you are experiencing symptoms more serious than those described or fever continues for more than two days, contact your doctor or seek care at the nearest emergency department. Make sure you notify the vaccine administrator of these symptoms prior to your second vaccine shot.

Can the vaccine cause COVID-19?

No. The COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the U.S., including the BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, DO NOT use the live virus that causes COVID-19. After receiving the vaccine, you may experience symptoms such as arm pain, low-grade fever, chills, or fatigue. This is normal, and symptoms will resolve without treatment.

How long will my COVID-19 immunity last after vaccination?

It is unknown at this time how long immunity will last; ongoing studies will help determine if repeat vaccination is needed and, if it is, how often we may need a booster. Therefore, after vaccination, you will still need to wear a mask and social distance until further notice. Factors such as how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities will help determine when we may be able to stop taking these extra precautions.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for women who are pregnant?

Studies have not yet been done to determine if the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for a pregnant woman or her fetus. However, the vaccine is thought to be unlikely to pose a risk, according to experts from the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists and the CDC and the independent Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). That’s because the vaccine does not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, so it cannot give someone COVID-19, and the vaccine does not interact with or alter human DNA in the recipient.

If I had COVID-19 antibodies or recovered from COVID-19, can I get a vaccination?

Yes. You can get the COVID-19 vaccine if you’ve had the virus. We do not currently have enough information to determine if or for how long after infection someone is protected (through natural immunity) from getting COVID-19 again. Therefore, the vaccine may offer additional protection.

Please note, if you’ve had COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapy or COVID-19 convalescent plasma, you should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until at least 91 days following treatment.

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