Immunization Requirements

There are two immunization requirements that all students—regardless of credit load—must meet before registering for classes:

  1. New York State public health law and University policy requires that all students document immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella.
  2. Students must also document that they either have received the meningitis vaccine or have declined to receive it.

Students must submit their 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.

Ways to Document Immunity

Provide a certificate of immunization verifying the date of the disease or the administered measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines. This includes documents such as:

  • 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

You must also complete the student section of the Columbia University MMR Form. All immunizations must have been received after your first birthday.

  • 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.

If diagnosed by a physician, a history of having had measles and/or mumps is acceptable proof of immunity. 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 to all three diseases may be proven by a single blood test for antibodies. You must submit a copy of the actual laboratory report along with the completed student section of the Columbia University MMR Form.

Immunization records from another college or university are also acceptable. 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. It is important for you to maintain a copy, as often the forms are illegible or lack identifying information required to process the documentation.

Students who graduated from a high school in New York State may wish to submit their 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.

If you are unable to locate your immunization documentation, Medical Services offers the MMR vaccine and titer (blood) test on a walk-in basis. No appointment is necessary. The vaccine and blood test are provided at no cost for new students and 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.

Walk-in Immunization Clinics

Free immunizations for measles, mumps, and rubella are also given at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene walk-in clinics. Students may choose to visit one of the city’s clinics if they are unable to receive the vaccine at Medical Services at Columbia Health. The waiting time is usually one to two hours and may be longer during busy periods.

The clinic will document the immunization on an immunization record card. A copy of this record should be attached to the completed student section of the Columbia University MMR Form and provided to the Columbia Health Immunization Compliance Office.

Meningitis

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 and must certify their decision online.

Full instructions are given online, and the process 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.

Submitting Documentation

Submit documentation to the Columbia Health Immunization Compliance Office:

  • Online: Secure digital upload via the Patient Portal (Instructions)
  • In Person: Immunization Office, John Jay Hall, 3rd Floor, Monday-Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • By mail: Immunization Office, John Jay Hall 3rd Floor, MC 3601, 519 W. 114th St., New York, NY 10027
  • By fax: 212-854-5078

We are unable to accept health forms or immunization documentation via email for privacy and security reasons.

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, call 212-854-7210 or email immunizationcompliance@columbia.edu.

Exemptions

Medical Exemption from Immunization Requirements

A letter from your physician giving the specific diagnosis and/or treatment, the length of treatment, and any medications that you believe preclude further immunizations must be submitted to the Immunization Compliance Office. After your request has been reviewed and processed, you will be notified in writing if either a temporary or permanent exemption has been granted. If a temporary exemption is given, you will be expected to complete the requirement at the exemption’s expiration.

Religious Exemption from Immunization Requirements

Most religious groups that object to immunizations will provide you with a standard form indicating such objection. You may also submit a letter detailing the religious basis of your objection. However, you may be asked to provide supporting documentation. After your request has been processed, you will be notified in writing if the exemption has been granted.

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 (chicken pox). All vaccines are available to students at Medical Services, after paying the Columbia Health and Related Services Fee.

  1. Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
  2. Hepatitis A, B, or a combination
  3. Human papillomavirus (Gardasil) for students age 26 or younger
  4. Influenza (flu)
  5. Meningococcal meningitis (Menactra, Menumune)
  6. Pneumococcal (Pneumovax) if clinically indicated
  7. Tetanus/Diphtheria or Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis
  8. Varicella (chicken pox)
  9. Zoster (only appropriate for students over the age of 60)

Vaccinations are available for a minimal cost to students who have not paid the Columbia Health and Related Services Fee. Charges may be paid to Columbia Health by cash, check, Visa, and MasterCard.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

To ensure timely registration, submit your documentation at least 30 days prior to registering for classes. We strongly encourage you to contact your Columbia school or division to determine your registration date. You will be notified via your Columbia email address only if you need to provide additional information.

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.

All incoming students are placed on health hold prior to the start of the semester. If your documentation is complete, the hold will be removed and you will be permitted to register for classes. Check your hold status by logging into your SSOL account.

Yes, once you have sent us proof of having received the 1st MMR dose, you will be able to register for classes. Since it is medically necessary that you wait for at least 28 days between MMR 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 submitting proof of the second dose.

Students may submit an official copy of their immunization history and/or lab results in place of having a physician complete the MMR form. Be sure to include full name, date of birth, and UNI on the documentation. Also fill out the student section of the Columbia MMR form and submit it.