Date: April 19, 2021
From:  Provost Katherine Fleming
Exec. Vice President Martin Dorph
Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, Exec. Lead, NYU COVID Prevention & Response Team

Requiring Vaccinations for Students

A number of universities have announced that they plan to make vaccinations mandatory for fall 2021. We have been asked what NYU plans to do.

Subject to guidance that comes from public health authorities, NYU intends to require vaccinations for all NYU students returning to campus in New York City and other U.S. sites for the fall semester, while accommodating medical and religious exemptions. We expect that this requirement will also extend to students who are planning on studying away this fall. NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai will continue working in conjunction with the respective local authorities, as well as NYU, to determine their requirements.

At this point, we are not requiring vaccinations for faculty and employees, but we strongly encourage them to be vaccinated and to upload documentation about their COVID vaccinations to enable us to make better informed judgments about NYU community health planning. We may revisit the issue of required vaccinations for faculty and employees as we move forward and continue to develop our plans to assure the health and safety of all members of our community.

Requiring vaccinations is consistent with our intent to minimize the spread of COVID-19 within our own community and more generally in New York City and to enable more in-person on-campus activities. Additionally, we believe it is better to let people know earlier in order to maximize the time they have to arrange to be vaccinated before the fall.

We recognize there is a list of issues we need to work through, including whether and which vaccinations received abroad will be recognized. We have created an FAQ which we will update over time, and we will be following up with more detailed communications about the fall generally and vaccinations specifically.

We are also cognizant of the “pause” currently in place for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. There is a strong, evidence-informed process in place for scientific review of the questions about that vaccine, and our medical personnel will continue to closely follow CDC and FDA determinations about it. Right now, our vaccination program for students is using the Pfizer vaccine. We do not believe that the review of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should affect students' ability to be vaccinated between now and the beginning of the fall semester.

In sum: For the purposes of preparing for fall 2021, all students returning to the NYC campus and NYU’s Study Away sites—undergraduate, graduate, and professional—should be vaccinated.

We will be back in touch soon with more details, including about how to register your vaccination status with the University.

To that end, we expect to have information and instructions available before the end of April about the process we are creating to enable NYU students, faculty, and employees to upload and register their vaccination information.

Student Vaccinations

With the expansion of the NY State’s vaccine eligibility standards and the first delivery of vaccine stock, NYU began vaccinating students in early April. The student vaccinations are being conducted through the Student Health Center (vaccinations for eligible faculty and employees through NYU Langone Health began in January).

The NYU Student Health Center’s vaccination effort is proceeding well, with Pfizer vaccinations administered in the first week to 1,168 students, selected at random.

We will continue to offer students vaccinations as we receive vaccine stock. We have received another 1,170 doses of Pfizer vaccine this week.

We strongly encourage students—and all members of the NYU community—to also seek vaccinations elsewhere if that will result in their getting vaccinated earlier. Try using the City or State portals, or Turbovax or the NYC Vaccine List.

High Case Positivity Rates, and Situations You Should Avoid

New York City’s rate of new positive cases is finally showing a slow, gradual decline, but there are still more than 10 times as many positive cases daily as was the case in early September; that stubbornly high rate is attributable in great part to COVID variants.

NYU’s case positivity rate also remains higher than we would like; some of this is attributable to the new variants, but some of it can be imputed to community members socializing, often without masks.

Notwithstanding the lifting of restrictions, please pay heed to the warning of public health experts—avoid indoor dining; keep your mask on; avoid crowds and especially situations where people aren’t wearing masks; avoid travel; avoid indoor exercise classes.

Updates to NYU’s Travel Policy, and Changes to State Quarantine Policy

We don’t want to be misunderstood: NYU continues to discourage all travel (domestic and international), and non-essential University travel remains suspended. However,

  1. NYS no longer requires asymptomatic travelers entering New York from another country, U.S. state, or territory to quarantine. Travelers must continue to fill out the NYS Traveler Health Form. However, all travel increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. As such, consistent with CDC guidelines, NYU strongly recommends, but does not mandate, that you get a PCR test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel—especially if you are not fully vaccinated.
  2. Domestic travel that is deemed essential, and is entirely funded by external sources, may now be booked without the need for a travel exception to be submitted. Full information is available on the Travel Policy webpage.

CDC Issues Guidelines for Those Who Are Fully Vaccinated

The new guidelines from the CDC expand the types of activities and social interactions deemed to be lower risk for those who are fully vaccinated. This is good news. However, against the backdrop of high rates of new cases, we continue to advise all members of the NYU community to use caution.  

Keep each other Safe