Julia Nagel / Sun Staff Photographer

Cornell students who qualify as essential workers find trouble receiving vaccines.

March 2, 2021

Despite Eligibility, Student Workers Struggle to Get COVID-19 Vaccines

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Joining health care personnel, the elderly and essential workers, student workers have become eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, but many of them have faced hurdles before even receiving their first shot. 

Student workers from Cornell Health to campus dining are considered to be front line workers, yet their eligibility for the COVID vaccine has only revealed the many roadblocks standing in the way of receiving it. 

One of the biggest obstacles to the vaccine is the lack of accessible vaccination clinics in close proximity to the University. 

Rebecca Braimon ’21, a student manager at Rose Dining Hall on West campus, has to make the more than one-hour long drive to Bingamton to receive her first dose. Though she has a car, she acknowledged that is not the case for many of her co-workers.

“Availability is one of the biggest roadblocks my students are experiencing,” Braimon said. “Many people have papers and prelims so frequently that they can’t spare the time to go all the way to Binghamton or Syracuse, which are some of the closest vaccination sites.”

People without a car may be forced to ride a bus for hours, or spend upwards of $150 for an Uber round trip round trip to one of the major cities near Ithaca with vaccination clinics. In addition to the financial expenses of travel for vaccinations, students may also expose themselves to the virus outside the University’s bubble. 

For immunocompromised students, like Adam Czosnyka ’24, a member of Helping Hands for the Wegmans supermarket chain, public transportation is not a viable option. 

“There should be vaccine availability closer to campus, if not on campus,” Czosnyka said. “I blame Cornell for not having easy access to vaccination clinics for student workers that can also help all of Ithaca.”   

Before students can even attempt to make their way to a vaccination clinic, they face digital barriers — Czosnyka is frequently checking the New York State vaccine sign-up website because appointments are filled almost as soon as they are made available.

He said getting an appointment was akin to “a Supreme drop,” referencing the competitive process of buying new designer items the second they are released.

“Having this privilege keeps me from getting frustrated,” Chike Murray ’24 said. “A lot of other people want the vaccine but aren’t eligible. I’m grateful about it, and I’m just going to be patient.”