Vaccine doses are starting to reach Cornell’s campus as New York’s phased vaccine distribution begins to include eligible students, faculty and staff.
Cornell medical personnel, fire department staff, police and employees over 75 first met state vaccination eligibility guidelines in early January, and in-person college instructors were added to the list Jan. 11. In response, the Cornell COVID-19 Vaccination Team reached out to faculty and staff teaching in-person classes this semester, Provost Kotlikoff said in a January statement.
Some segments of the student body also qualify as part of Phase 1, Tompkins County Health Director Public Health Director Frank Kruppa said. People with certain comorbidities would soon move into the priority population, meaning that students would be eligible for vaccinations if they had certain pre-existing conditions. All adult New Yorkers who qualify will move into the eligible list Feb.15.
Those who work in one of Cornell’s nine surveillance testing sites are among the eligible Cornell students, as Phase 1a includes members of the community conducting COVID-19 tests, handling COVID-19 specimens and COVID-19 vaccinations.
Dylan Hoell ’24, who works at surveillance testing sites on campus, was one such student.
Hoell plans on getting the vaccine at the next available clinic but still plans to follow the same precautions and safety guidelines.
“There’s definitely a temptation to let your guard down,” Hoell said. “I’m going to continue with all of the safety precautions … It’s always been an issue of giving it to other people because I knew that I wouldn’t get that severe of symptoms.”
Hoell said he will feel safer working at the surveillance test sites after he is vaccinated. He added that even if safety guidelines remain the same, getting a vaccine will be a welcome relief for many students.
“I think a lot of the student body already doesn’t really care that much about precautions,” Hoell said. “I think that for people who might have been otherwise very nervous, staying in their dorm a lot — because I know those people still exist too — that might make them a little more comfortable.”
However, students not deemed at risk will likely have to wait a few more months.
The New York State website predicted general population distribution to begin this summer. It is unknown whether Cornell will be providing vaccine distribution on campus or if students can expect to be vaccinated before the end of the semester.
“The general population would be further down the line of course, as more vaccines became available,” Kruppa said.