Cornell University implements COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all employees


COVID-19 Dashboards

ITHACA, N.Y. (WETM) – Cornell University employees must be vaccinated for COVID-19 or obtain a university-approved medical or religious exemption by December 8.

The university’s President, Provost, and Vice President/Chief Human Resources Officer released a letter on Wednesday notifying all employees of the mandate. The vaccine mandate will include all employees who work on campus in Ithaca, Geneva, New York City, or any other university location.

According to the letter released on Wednesday, the mandate is due to President Biden’s recent executive order requiring all employees of businesses contracted with the federal government to receive the vaccine.

Those who do not comply with the vaccine mandate will be removed from the company’s payroll.

Dear Colleagues,

Our efforts to promote the vaccination of the Cornell community have led to the full vaccination of an overwhelming percentage of our students, staff, and faculty. President Biden’s recent executive order, however, requires that all employees of certain contractors that do business with the federal government be vaccinated, unless exempt for medical or religious reasons. The university has numerous federal contracts that are covered by the provisions in the executive order. Because of the scope of the executive order, the university will require all employees, whether they work on campus in Ithaca, Geneva, New York City, or any other location, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8, or to have obtained a university-approved medical or religious exemption. After December 8, anyone who fails to comply will be removed from our payroll.

If you have already been vaccinated and submitted your proof of vaccination through the Daily Check site, there’s nothing more you need to do. Employees who have not yet submitted proof of vaccination will be contacted by Human Resources with instructions on how to proceed. Medical and religious exemptions will be considered, and Human Resources will provide more information about the exemption process when they contact employees who have not yet provided proof of vaccination.

Unvaccinated employees should seek their first vaccine dose as soon as possible. All employees must be fully vaccinated by December 8; it is not sufficient to have started the vaccination process by that date. The full vaccination process – which begins on the date of the first dose and ends on the date an individual is considered fully vaccinated – can take as long as six weeks. Vaccination is free to all. The CDC offers a tool to search for vaccination sites near you, and the Tompkins County Health Department website lists several local vaccination sites. Employees in New York state may take up to four hours off from work, with pay, to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Full vaccination of our community will further protect all of us, particularly those most vulnerable. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Martha E. Pollack

Michael I. Kotlikoff

Mary Opperman
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

Cornell required vaccination for students returning to Ithaca, Geneva, and Cornell Tech campuses for the Fall 2021 semester. According to a university dashboard, 96 percent of Cornell’s on-campus population is vaccinated.

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