Immunization Requirements

There are several immunization requirements that all students—regardless of credit load—must meet.

MMR: New York State public health law and University policy requires that all students born on or after January 1, 1957 document immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella.  This requirement applies before a student is permitted to register for their first term at Columbia.

Meningitis decision: New York State public health law and University policy require that students must also document that they either have received the meningococcus meningitis vaccine or have declined to receive it.  This requirement applies before a student is permitted to register for their first term at Columbia.

**For Fall 2021, all students must register a decision (new students) or update their decision (continuing students)**

COVID-19: University policy requires that students must provide documentation of being fully vaccinated. Completion of the vaccine process is defined as:

  • At least 14 days after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine
  • At least 14 days after receiving a single dose vaccine (currently only the Janssen/Johnson&Johnson vaccine)

All students are expected to complete the COVID-19 vaccine process at least 14 days before first accessing University facilities or participating in in-person University-approved activities to ensure they are considered fully vaccinated at the time of first access. 

Seasonal Influenza: Columbia University policy requires that students receive, or provide documentation they have received, the seasonal influenza vaccine between August 1 of the Fall term and May 1 of the Spring term. For students enrolled in the Fall, this requirement must be met before students are permitted to register for Spring courses. For students new to the University in the Spring term, this requirement applies before a student is permitted to register for their first term at Columbia.

For MMR, Meningitis Decision, and COVID-19 vaccines, students must submit their documentation upon admission or at least 30 days prior to their scheduled registration date.

Students must submit their MMR and Meningitis documentation upon admission or at least 30 days prior to their scheduled registration date. For this reason, a hold is placed on registration for all incoming students.

Populations

While all Columbia students are subject to immunization requirements, the process details contained herein apply to the following schools:

  • Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
  • Graduate School of Arts
  • Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
  • Columbia Business School
  • Columbia Climate School
  • Columbia College
  • Columbia Journalism School
  • Columbia Law School
  • Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Sciences
  • School of General Studies
  • School of International & Public Affairs
  • School of Professional Studies
  • School of Social Work

Students enrolled in the following schools must follow the processes managed by Student Health on Haven and may include additional requirements:

  • College of Dental Medicine
  • School of Nursing
  • Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons
  • Mailman School of Public Health

Students enrolled in the following schools must follow the process and procedures as outlined by their respective schools:

Students

Students that intend to access campus for any reason at any time, including those registered only for online courses, are subject to this requirement. Any student that fails to complete the requirement or has not received a medical or religious exemption for the required vaccines shall not be permitted to access University facilities nor engage in any in-person, University-recognized activities.

Employee/Student

Employees that are registered for classes, including online and audit only, are considered students and must comply with the vaccine requirement in order to access University facilities or engage in any in-person, University-recognized activities.  This requirement applies even if the primary purpose for access to University facilities is a role other than student.

Ways to Document Immunity

Provide a certificate of immunization verifying the date of the disease or the administered measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines. All immunizations must have been received on or after your first birthday.  This includes documents such as:

  • Completed and signed Columbia MMR form (preferred)
  • Certificate from a licensed physician
  • Migrant health record
  • Union health record
  • Community health plan record
  • Military dependent “shot” record
  • Immunization record card signed by a physician, physician's assistant, or nurse practitioner

It is important for you to maintain a copy, as often the forms are illegible or lack identifying information required to process the documentation.  If you do not use the Columbia University MMR Form be sure to include your UNI on all uploaded documents.

All documentation must be submitted in English or accompanied by a certified translation (at the student’s expense).  Verification of documentation is at the sole discretion of Columbia Health.  Additional information or documentation may be requested and if requested must be provided in order to verify a submission.

Live Measles: 2 doses required. Vaccines must have been administered at least 28 days apart. Measles vaccine doses administered prior to 1968 are not valid unless documentation specifically states it was a LIVE vaccine.

Live Mumps: 1 injection required. Vaccine was not available in the United States until January 1, 1969; therefore, no statement of immunization administered before that date is acceptable.

Live Rubella: 1 injection required. Vaccine was not available in the U.S. until January 1, 1969; therefore, no statement of immunization administered before that date is acceptable.

Note: The MMR combined vaccination fulfills the requirement for 1 measles, 1 mumps, and 1 rubella immunization. A second measles shot is required. The MMR combined vaccine was not available in the U.S. before January 1, 1972; therefore, no immunizations administered before that date are acceptable for U.S. students.

Documented History of Illness

If diagnosed by a physician, a history of having had measles or mumps is acceptable proof of immunity for the respective disease. Provide documentation verifying the date of the disease. Alternatively, a physician or health care provider must enter the dates of initial diagnosis on the Columbia University MMR Form; students must also complete the student section of this form. A diagnosis of previous rubella disease is not acceptable proof of immunity under the New York State Health Code.

Immunity Proven by Serologic Testing

Immunity to all three diseases may be proven by a single blood test for antibodies. You must submit a copy of the actual laboratory report containing the date of test, antibody level, and reference range along with the completed student section of the Columbia University MMR Form.

Documentation from Another School

College or university: Complete the student section of the Columbia University MMR Form and submit it along with a copy of your immunization record. Since requirements vary by state and country, your record is reviewed for compliance with New York State standards

High School: Complete the student section of the Columbia University MMR Form and submit it with the high school immunization certificate for review. The New York State Department of Health is encouraging high schools to provide a copy of the certificate to students when they graduate.

MMR Vaccine or Blood Test at Columbia

If you are unable to locate your immunization documentation, Medical Services offers the MMR vaccine and titer (blood) test.

The vaccine and blood test should be completed at least 30 days prior to registering for classes. Medical Services is located on the third floor of John Jay Hall. Please note that the results of the blood test may take 3-5 business days.

Costs for meeting the pre-matriculation requirements are as follows:

$150 for the MMR Titer

$180 for each MMR Dose

All fees must be paid before the titer or vaccine will be administered.

**For Fall 2021, all students must register a decision (new students) or update their decision (continuing students)**

New York State public health law requires that college and university students receive information from their institutions about meningococcal meningitis and the vaccine that protects against most strains of the disease that can occur on university campuses.

Columbia students must make an informed decision about being vaccinated, intent to be vaccinated, or declination of vaccination and must certify their decision online.  

The process only takes two to three minutes. Students must formally indicate their decision about being vaccinated before they will be permitted to register for classes.

It is required that students submit their documentation upon admission or at least 30 days prior to their scheduled registration date. For this reason, all incoming students are placed on hold prior to their first registration. 

All documentation must be submitted in English or accompanied by a certified translation (at the student’s expense).  Verification of documentation is at the sole discretion of Columbia Health.  Additional information or documentation may be requested and if requested must be provided in order to verify a submission.

Note: If a student indicated they have received the vaccine they must also upload proof of the vaccine and it must be verified by Columbia in order for this requirement to be completed.

To protect the health and well-being of the community, Columbia University requires all students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before being granted access to University campuses and facilities, and permission to participate at in-person University-recognized activities. This requirement shall apply regardless of the purpose, duration, or frequency of planned access to facilities or participation with in-person activities.

Columbia University accepts all vaccines authorized/approved by the US Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization. Additionally, individuals who have participated in a phase 2 vaccine trial in the United States will be considered fully vaccinated in the absence of formal FDA authorization if the following conditions are met: (1) the phase 3 trial results have been published; (2) student participants are confirmed by the study investigators to have received the complete vaccine regimen; and (3) the sponsor has submitted for formal FDA authorization.  At present this only applies to the Novavax vaccine.

Please upload the documentation you have in the Medical Clearances section of the Patient Portal (click here for instructions) and Columbia Health will review.  Anyone not meeting requirements or needing to submit additional information will receive outreach from Columbia Health.

All students are expected to complete the vaccine process at least 14 days before first accessing University facilities or participating with in-person University approved activities to ensure they are considered fully vaccinated at the time of first access. Ideally, Students must have vaccine documentation uploaded to the Patient Portal no later than August 2.

Completion of the vaccine process is defined as:

  • At least 14 days after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine
  • At least 14 days after receiving a single dose vaccine (currently only the Janssen/Johnson&Johnson vaccine)

In limited situations where a student has difficulty accessing an approved vaccine, the student can receive the vaccine from the University at no out-of-pocket cost.  Until fully vaccinated (as defined above) such students will be required to comply with additional COVID-19 testing requirements and other preventive measures in place at that time. 

All records must include the following:

  • Student Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Name of vaccine received
  • Date of vaccination(s)
  • Provider name, signature, or stamp
Vaccines Received from Columbia Health

Students who receive a vaccine from Columbia Health on the Morningside campus have their records updated automatically and do not need to upload records. Verification can be viewed at any time by accessing the Immunizations section of the Patient Portal.

Vaccines Received from Other Sites

Students who were vaccinated at any site other than Columbia Health on the Morningside campus must upload documentation of their vaccine in the Medical Clearances section of the Patient Portal (click here for instructions). This includes students that were vaccinated at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center campus.

Acceptable proof of vaccination includes, but is not limited, to the following:

  • CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Card
  • WHO Vaccine Booklet
  • Documentation provided by a health care professional/organization/country

All documentation must be submitted in English or accompanied by a certified translation (at the student’s expense). 

Verification of documentation is at the sole discretion of Columbia Health. Additional information or documentation may be requested and if requested must be provided in order to verify a submission.

Students are required to receive, or provide documentation they have received, the seasonal influenza vaccine between August 1 of the Fall term and May 1 of the Spring term.  For students enrolled in the Fall, this requirement must be met before students are permitted to register for Spring courses. For students new to the University in the Spring term, this requirement applies before a student is permitted to register for their first term at Columbia.

Vaccines Received from Columbia Health

Columbia Health offers multiple opportunities to receive the flu vaccine at no out-of-pocket cost each Fall term. Details are shared across multiple University communication channels each fall term.

Students who receive a vaccine from Columbia Health on the Morningside campus have their records updated automatically and do not need to upload records. Verification can be viewed at any time by accessing the Immunizations section of the Patient Portal.

Vaccines Received from Other Sites

Students who were vaccinated at any site other than Columbia Health on the Morningside campus must upload documentation of their vaccine in the Medical Clearances section of the Columbia Health Patient Portal. This includes students that were vaccinated at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center campus.

Acceptable proof of vaccination includes, but is not limited, to the following:

  • WHO Vaccine Booklet
  • Documentation provided by a health care professional/organization/country

All documentation must be submitted in English or accompanied by a certified translation (at the student’s expense). Verification of documentation is at the sole discretion of Columbia Health. Additional information or documentation may be requested and if requested must be provided in order to verify a submission.

Submitting Documentation

Submit documentation to the Columbia Health Immunization Compliance Office. PLEASE SUBMIT DOCUMENTATION ONLY ONCE using one method and allow at least 15 business days for processing.  Submitting via multiple methods will result in delays.  The office will reach out via your Columbia email if your records do not demonstrate the required compliance.

Preferred Methods

Online: Secure digital upload via the Columbia Health Patient Portal (Medical Clearances Section)

Fax: 212-854-5078

Email: immunizationcompliance@columbia.edu with the subject line Immunization Compliance Records - [Your UNI and Academic School/College] 

Please note that communications sent via email over the Internet are not necessarily secure.  Columbia University cannot guarantee that the information and records submitted via unencrypted email will not be intercepted and read by other parties besides the University.

Alternate Methods

Mail: Immunization Compliance Office, John Jay Hall 3rd Floor, MC 3601, 519 W. 114th St., New York, NY 10027

Note - due to continued remote work we cannot guarantee any timeline on the processing of records mailed to our office.

Be sure to keep a copy of your fax or delivery confirmation as we cannot verify receipt of individual documents. For questions or concerns regarding your immunization documentation, please email immunizationcompliance@columbia.edu.

Recommended Vaccinations

Columbia Health recommends that students receive all routine childhood vaccinations: an updated tetanus booster, a vaccination for hepatitis B (3-dose series), and one for varicella (chickenpox). All vaccines are available to students at Medical Services after paying the Columbia Health and Related Services Fee. Vaccinations are available for a cost to students who have not paid the Columbia Health and Related Services Fee. Charges may be paid to Columbia Health by Visa or MasterCard.

  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) (Fees apply for pre-matriculation administration)
  • Hepatitis A, B, or a combination
  • Human papillomavirus (Gardasil) for students age 26 or younger
  • Meningococcal meningitis (Menactra, Menumune) (Fees apply for pre-matriculation administration)
  • Pneumococcal (Pneumovax) if clinically indicated
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria or Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Zoster (only appropriate for students over the age of 60)

We strongly suggest students establish care with a Columbia Health primary care provider prior to receiving vaccines. Contact Medical Services at 212-854-7426 in advance to ensure we can accommodate your schedule and bring documentation of your immunization history for evaluation.

In addition, travel vaccines—such as Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, and rabies pre-exposure—can be provided through the CU on the Road Travel Medicine program.

Exemptions

Columbia University is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, and supportive experience for all students and recognizes medical contraindications to vaccination as well as student observance of their faith as it pertains to the practice of immunization. 

To request a medical or religious exemption, please complete the appropriate request forms (see below), read the required Vaccine Information Information (see forms for links), attach all supplemental materials, and upload all documents to the Columbia Health Patient PortalStudents requesting an exemption must submit separate forms for each vaccine exemption request. 

Exemptions requests will not be considered if incomplete documentation is received. Each complete request is carefully reviewed and a determination is made based on the information submitted. All requests are considered and reviewed, but approval is not guaranteed. Decisions are final, not subject to appeal, and will be shared in a determination letter sent to your University email. Students may provide a new request with new supporting documentation if information changes. Please note that all exemptions are temporary and must be renewed as noted in the instructions. 

Please allow a minimum of 15 business days for requests to be processed and requests will not be expedited.

Measles, Mumps, & Rubella (MMR)

Medical Exemption Instructions and Form

Religious Exemption Instructions and Form

Religious Exemption Recertification Instructions and Form (continuing students with previous exemption only)

COVID-19

Medical Exemption Instructions and Form

Religious Exemption Instructions and Form

Seasonal Influenza

Medical Exemption Instructions and Form

Religious Exemption Instructions and Form

Religious Exemption Recertification Instructions and Form  (continuing students with previous exemption only)

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. You will be notified via your Columbia email address only if you need to provide additional information.

Typically 7-10 business days. Immunization records are processed in order of receipt. At the start of the academic semester, it may take a few days for your documentation to be processed and for the hold to be removed. You should also check that you have properly completed the online meningococcal meningitis requirement.

Check your hold status by logging into your SSOL account.

Usually. 

Once we have verified your proof of having received the 1st dose, you will be able to register for classes (MMR) or access campus (COVID-19). Since it is medically necessary that you wait for at least 21-28 days between vaccines, you are granted temporary compliance for 28 days from the date on which the first dose was administered. You will become fully compliant only by submitting proof of the second dose. Students that fail to receive the second dose in a timely manner may be subject to de-registration from all courses or blocked from accessing campus, and may not receive tuition and fee refunds.

Students may submit an official copy of their immunization history and lab results in place of having a physician complete the MMR form. Be sure to include your full name, date of birth, and UNI on the documentation. Additionally, complete the student section of the Columbia MMR form and submit along with your official records.

Columbia Health makes every effort to protect the privacy of submitted information.  Please review our Notice of Privacy Practices and Vaccine Status Privacy Notice for more details.