Eligible Columbia affiliates now have until February 28 to receive and document a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to an email sent to Columbia community members Monday morning. 

In light of the recent Omicron variant surge, Columbia has extended the deadline for some affiliates to get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to February 28. The deadline was originally January 31. This extension was announced in an email from Senior Vice President and University COVID Director Donna Lynne and Senior Executive Vice President Gerry Rosberg. Instructions on how to document booster shots are included in the email, which can be read in full below.

The 5-week extension, designed to account for the wave of COVID-19 infections resulting from the Omicron variant, will allow recently-infected individuals to recover and isolate before receiving their booster. According to the email, the peak of the surge occurred on January 3 for New York City and on January 15 for the entire United States. Eligibility for the extension is determined by the date of an individual’s last dose of primary vaccination.

The need for this delay is based on CDC guidance, which states that both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals infected with COVID-19 should wait to be vaccinated until they are recovered and meet the criteria for discontinuing isolation.

According to today’s email, “certain health care workers” and students who work at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital locations will still be held to the New York State deadline of February 21. The sole exception to the new deadline is for “individuals who received monoclonal antibody COVID-19 treatment who are not eligible for vaccination until 90 days after the treatment.”

The updated guidance follows a recent request from the University Senate Student Affairs Committee to extend the deadline to receive a booster shot. The SAC, after receiving numerous complaints about the mandate, conducted a survey to gauge the need for an extension given the rapid spread of the virus over the winter break, as well as to determine broader support across the student population for an extension. The full text of the SAC’s message to the student body is provided below. 

Email sent from Senior Vice President Donna Lynne and Senior Executive Vice President Gerald Rosberg to the University community on Monday, January 31, at 10:32 am: 

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

We are writing today to provide an update on the deadline to upload booster dose documentation in order to comply with the University’s booster vaccination mandate.

The deadline which was previously January 31, 2022 has now been extended to February 28, 2022 for all eligible individuals (eligibility is based on date of last dose of primary vaccination). This extension is to take into account the fact that the peak of the Omicron surge in New York City was observed on January 3, 2022 and on January 15, 2022 for the U.S. overall. This extension allows for those who recently had COVID-19 to recover and complete the required isolation period prior to receiving their booster vaccination. Certain health care workers and students who work in NYP locations will be required to meet the earlier NY State booster mandate date of February 21, 2022. In addition, the health care workers in NYP locations are also required to get a flu vaccination by February 21st.

The University follows the CDC’s recommendations regarding the interval between an episode of COVID-19 infection and receipt of vaccine dose. The guidance states that people with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation; those who have COVID-19 infection without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated. There is no indication for a longer delay. The only exception is for individuals who received monoclonal antibody COVID-19 treatment who are not eligible for vaccination until 90 days after the treatment. In the absence of any specific recommendation from CDC that treats booster vaccination differently from recommended timing post COVID-19 for primary vaccination, the criteria above will apply.

Since the University announced the booster mandate for all affiliates, there has been a growing body of research from around the world that supports the value of booster doses. This is due to the fact that protection from primary vaccination wanes over time and booster doses have been shown consistently to be necessary to decrease the risk of infection, and most importantly to decrease the risk of severe illness and hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Additional evidence also shows that  getting vaccinated adds substantial protection, including for individuals who have had prior “natural” infection.

It is important to keep in mind that booster doses not only provide protection against new virus variants for the vaccinated individual, but also decrease circulating virus, thus protecting others in the community.  

Please upload your booster vaccination documentation as soon as possible (and prior to the new deadlines of February 21 or 28, 2022). To upload proof of booster go to the Upload Your Vaccination Documentation website, or log into the ReopenCU app, scroll down to the vaccine section under My Checklist, and click on “faculty/staff.” Once you are on the document submission page, scroll down to the new Booster Information section. Students should upload their documentation through the student health portal.

Finally, thanks to all of you who have already uploaded your booster vaccination documentation.

Donna Lynne

Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, CUIMC

University COVID Director

Gerry Rosberg

Senior Executive Vice President

Email sent from University Senate Student Affairs Committee Co-Chairs Valeria Contreras and Jeremy T. Wahl and Vice Chair Tina R. Lee to students on Saturday, January 29, at 8:07 pm: 

Dear Columbia Students,

Happy New Year! We hope you had a restful break and are excited to be back on campus in-person this week!

We have received questions and concerns from students regarding the booster, particularly from students who were recently infected with the virus. The Student Affairs Committee (SAC) has requested that the administration provide an extension for the booster deadline for students who were infected with COVID-19 since December 2021. We are also preparing for the Wednesday Town Hall that the administration is having and want to ensure that we are able to include your input. 

Therefore, we are asking for your help by responding to a brief, anonymous survey that will critically support our work with the administration. 

We greatly appreciate your input. You can also register for the town hall and submit questions relating to COVID-19 and/or the booster, as well as any other concerns relating to our return to campus for the administration to discuss in further detail.

Finally, we have also received questions from students relating to the process for submitting booster documentation and/or medical/religious exemptions. The instructions are here for booster documentation and here for exemptions. 

Thank you and best wishes for the semester ahead.


Valeria Contreras, Co-Chair, Student Affairs Committee

Jeremy T. Wahl, Co-Chair, Student Affairs Committee,

Tina R. Lee, Vice Chair, Student Affairs Committee

Vaccine Vial via Bwog Archives