This week, many undergraduates received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Lerner Hall. With the recent addition of individuals 16 and older to the eligibility pool for COVID-19 vaccines, almost the entire Columbia community is now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to a University statement, members of the Columbia community can register to receive the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Lerner through the Columbia Health Patient Portal. Those using the health care provider ColumbiaDoctors are likewise able to schedule appointments by accessing their account on the Connect Patient Portal. Undergraduates first noticed the availability of Lerner appointments on Sunday night, prior to an official announcement from the University, and appointments for the week filled up within hours.
Vaccination appointments can now also be arranged at the Armory at 169th Street and Fort Washington Avenue, as well as at 650 W 168th St. using the website vaccinetogetherny.org. New appointments will become available at 51 W 51st St. on Tuesday, April 13 and the following week at 2702 Broadway.
“Vaccine supply is still limited and subject to distribution from the city and state,” Senior Executive Vice President Gerald Rosberg wrote in an email to the Columbia community Thursday. “While Columbia is endeavoring to make sure we are able to offer the vaccine to our affiliates, it may be many weeks before the supply meets the demand. Please avail yourselves of the city locations and state locations to find sites and make appointments.”
Because the University is working on a limited week-to-week supply of the vaccine, some students were unable to secure appointments in time for this week after learning of their availability over social media. Appointments are expected to be updated on a weekly basis as the doses become available.
Emily Musembi, CC ’22, was among the many Columbia students who were unable to get a vaccine appointment in Lerner this week. Although she first logged on to her Health Portal early on Monday morning, the coming week’s appointments had already been booked.
“As far as I know, there [had not] been communication from Columbia regarding vaccine availability. … If it wasn’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t have known,” Musembi said.
Musembi had been watching out for COVID-19 updates from the University in anticipation of when she would be able to get a vaccine through the University.
“I’ve been keeping up with the emails saying that ‘they’re working on it’ and kind of talking about the problems with it but I think they should’ve released an email letting everyone know that it was officially available,” she said.
Nick Mijares, SEAS ’22, had more luck. Mijares also learned of appointments in Lerner from a friend on social media seven hours earlier than Musembi on Sunday night.
“I got lucky on my fourth or fifth try [to get an appointment]. Literally at 12:30 at night I was able to secure a Wednesday morning slot,” he said. “When I checked [Monday] morning, it looked like everything was gone.”
Even booked vaccine appointments are considered tentative and supply-dependent. Temporary daily vaccine waiting lists can be joined by emailing your name and phone number to the email email@example.com. Students are able to schedule appointments for their second dose during their first appointments.
In addition to announcements related to the availability of the vaccine, Rosberg’s email outlined loosened travel guidelines for the upcoming summer. Students will no longer be urged to restrict domestic personal travel for family and personal emergencies, and they will only be required to follow New York state guidance. The University, however, will continue to discourage international personal travel for all students and staff, while international Columbia-related travel will remain suspended for undergraduates. The new summer guidelines will take effect on June 1.