Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Full vaccination is mandatory for all Cornell faculty and staff by Dec. 8, unless they qualify for a health or religious exemption.

October 7, 2021

Cornell Enforces Vaccination Requirement for Employees Following Executive Order

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Under a recent executive order, Cornell will require all Cornell employees to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 — marking a shift from previous University policy that only encouraged faculty and staff to get their COVID vaccines.  

In a Wednesday email to faculty and staff, President Martha Pollack, Provost Michael Kotlikoff and Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Mary Opperman wrote that — without an approved religious or medical exemption — all staff need to be vaccinated because the University has multiple federal contracts covered under the executive order. 

This federal policy requires vaccination for all non-exempt employees of certain contractors that do business with the government, the email read. 

For Cornell faculty and staff who have yet to get vaccinated, employees must get both of their doses by Dec. 8 to fulfill the requirement.

“Unvaccinated employees should seek their first vaccine dose as soon as possible,” Pollack, Kotlikoff and Opperman wrote.

Ninety-nine percent of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students are vaccinated. But only 91 percent of non-faculty staff are vaccinated. Cornell has required vaccination for students since August, but has until now only strongly encouraged vaccination for employees.  

Vaccination is free, and faculty and staff can find a vaccination site through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Tompkins County Health Department websites. Cornell employees in New York State can get up to four paid hours off of work to get vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated staff who have registered their vaccination with the University are in the clear. Cornell’s human resources department will contact those who have not yet been fully vaccinated and will provide information about the exemption process.

“Full vaccination of our community will further protect all of us, particularly those most vulnerable,” the email read.