CUIMC COVID-19 Vaccine Champions

COVID-19 Vaccine Information For CUIMC Employees and Students

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are currently being administered to front-line health care personnel at CUIMC. A prioritized roll-out of the vaccine will continue in the weeks and months ahead for all CUIMC faculty, staff and students. 

All employees and students must continue to take the appropriate precautions, including masking, appropriate PPE, and social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Vaccine Location and Hours

  • First Doses: Employees of Columbia, Weill Cornell and NYP who are in category 1a (patient facing) now receive the first dose of the vaccine at the Armory. Hours of operation are Tuesday–Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. 
  • Second Doses (Pfizer): Individuals may go to the Armory for second dose Pfizer vaccinations during hours of operation, Tuesday–Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. 
  • All faculty and staff age 65 or older are eligible to get their first dose at any of the NYC or NYS public vaccination sites, or at the Armory as long as they are NYC residents.   
  • Faculty and staff with eligible medical conditions are eligible to get their first dose at any of the NYC or NYS public vaccination sites or at the Armory through their regular appointment system if they reside in NYC, when appointments become availableAppointment information will updated on VaccineTogetherNY. 

Vaccination Updates and Announcements

Community Outreach

Feb. 1, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

We wanted to update you on the community engagement activities that are underway at our Armory vaccination center in Washington Heights. And to those of you who have been supporting the important work being done at The Armory since its opening on January 14, whether behind the scenes or on site, you have our thanks.

Columbia Doctors, NewYork-Presbyterian, and Weill Cornell Medicine want to get as many members of our community vaccinated as quickly as possible. To make that happen, we have launched an outreach and engagement program to reach eligible Northern Manhattan residents and get them registered for appointments at our Armory vaccination center in Washington Heights. This urgent and ongoing process is being undertaken in partnership with more than 40 community-based and faith-based organizations, and many others. We are focused on providing access, overcoming hesitancy, and addressing persistent inequities that too frequently result in people not getting the care they need.

Even before the Armory site opened, Columbia Doctors, NYP, and Weill Cornell Medicine have been engaged in a robust vaccination campaign for our own health care workers.  Led by work from the Dalio Center for Health Justice, an internal vaccine hesitancy campaign was launched to encourage all of our team members to get vaccinated, but in particular to speak to communities that have been harder hit by the COVID-19 epidemic whose members also are among those less likely to get vaccinated.  Based on that work, when the Armory site was opened, an outreach effort was already in place, focused on reaching eligible Northern Manhattan residents and getting them registered for vaccination appointments.

On January 27, in response to a large number of individuals traveling from outside New York City to get vaccinated at the Armory, NYP announced new eligibility guidelines: 100% of new appointments at The Armory are now for New York City residents only, and a minimum of 60% of all those appointments are reserved for eligible residents of the Washington Heights, Inwood, Harlem, and South Bronx communities.  Since implementing these changes, more than 70% of patients being vaccinated at The Armory are now coming from these Northern Manhattan communities.

We continue to expand our outreach efforts and initiatives, as well as increase the number of bilingual staff on-site at The Armory.  Please see below for more information on our work with our communities. If you know someone who can receive a vaccination at The Armory under these guidelines, please urge them to get the shot. To find information about eligibility and make vaccination appointments, visit VaccineTogetherNY.org.

Anil Rustgi, MD 

Interim Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine  

Columbia University Irving Medical Center  

Augustine M.K. Choi, MD 

Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean, Weill Cornell Medicine 

Provost for Medical Affairs, Cornell University 

Steven J. Corwin, MD 

President and Chief Executive Officer, NewYork-Presbyterian

Laura L. Forese, MD
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, NewYork-Presbyterian

Community Outreach

Supporting Access: Since The Armory vaccination site opened, we have directly booked appointments for community members who do not have digital access by phone, in partnership with community and faith-based organizations, community-based providers and our local elected officials. We have a large team of outreach workers and schedulers who call community members to address questions about the vaccine and schedule appointments. We are also exploring opening a Spanish-only call center with one of our community partners.

Partnering with Community and Faith-Based Leaders: To date, we have reached out to over 70 community groups, senior centers and faith-based organizations to enable them to refer eligible clients for appointments. We are continuing to reach out to CBOs who can make referrals and partner with us in this way.

Working with Community Physicians: We have a series of trainings for community physicians to use a similar process so we can reach their patients, as well.

Working with Our Government Partners: We are engaged in an ongoing dialogue with our local elected leaders in Washington Heights and Inwood so that we can quickly operationalize any feedback they have about our outreach approach, and so we can support their eligible constituents who may be having trouble accessing the vaccine. Before we opened we hosted a tour to our local elected leaders and since day one have been in constant communication with them and helping them to register their constituents.

Providing Education to Combat Hesitancy: We have scheduled talks for community based organizations to help them educate their staff and clients about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. We have a Speakers’ Bureau of over 30 expert clinicians available who can provide culturally competent presentations at varying health literacy levels to a range of audiences. Presentations can be requested by emailing community@nyp.org.

Leveraging Social Media: We are continuing to build and grow the #IGottheShot social media campaign, featuring testimonials from NYP employees on why they chose to get vaccinated. Moving forward, we are looking at growing this campaign in collaboration with local community groups and community leaders.

Engaging our Communities in Various Forums: Currently, we are planning a number of other approaches to encourage our communities to get vaccinated, included but not limited to: launching a direct texting campaign; outreach though Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media groups; third party outreach and promotion of sites; an earned media campaign to promote vaccine access; and hyperlocal targeted advertising campaign to promote access to vaccinations.

Patient Vaccinations at the Armory

All persons age 18 and over with certain underlying chronic medical conditions are eligible to receive the vaccine. Please see Phased Distribution of the Vaccine for more information. The Armory began vaccinating patients in this category starting on February 23. For those who meet these eligibility criteria, appointments can be made through Connect, and more information and appointment availability can be found at VaccineTogetherNY.org. Information is also available at 646.697.VACC. 

COVID-19 Vaccinations FAQ

CUIMC Vaccine Committee

Interim EVP and Dean Anil Rustgi, MD, has appointed a committee to address a range of issues related to COVID-19 vaccines. The committee, which is being co-chaired by Magda Sobieszczyk, MD, and Melissa Stockwell, MD MPH, will address the following:

  • Understand and assist in the equitable distribution of vaccines in the outpatient setting for faculty, staff, and trainees who are not in frontline emergency department and inpatient clinical roles. The committee’s work will complement the work of a University-wide vaccine committee and an NYP committee, both of which include membership from CUIMC. The NYP vaccine committee is addressing vaccine distribution to frontline health care workers. Both the CUIMC and NYP committees will also address the distribution of vaccines to patients in inpatient and outpatient settings.
  • Help disseminate information and identify potential educational opportunities to increase vaccine confidence among faculty, staff, and trainees.
  • Prioritize clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
  • Understand the ethical and mental health implications related to the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • Understand the needs of the local community and potential risks related to health care disparities.
  • Pursue areas that the committee identifies, including needs related to research and education.

Committee Members are:

  • Lou Baptista, MD Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Vice Chair for Clinical Services 
  • Ansgar Brambrink, MD, PhD Chair, Department of Anesthesiology
  • Jack Cioffi, MD Chair, Department of Ophthalmology 
  • Lydia Dugdale, MD, MAR Associate Professor of Medicine, Director, Center for Clinical Medicine Ethics 
  • Dustin T. Duncan, ScD, Associate Professor, Mailman School of Public Health
  • Stephen A. Ferrara, RN, DNP, FNP-BC, Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, School of Nursing 
  • Regine Grandmougin, Senior Executive Director, Patient Facilitated Services and Stewardship 
  • Andrew Lassman, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology and Chief of Neuro-Oncology 
  • Donna Lynne, DrPH, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of CUIMC, Chief Executive Officer ColumbiaDoctors 
  • James McKiernan, MD, Chair, Department of Urology 
  • Rudina Odeh-Ramadan, PharmD, Vice Dean for Finance and Administration 
  • Biana Roykh, DDS, MPH, Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, College of Dental Medicine 
  • Steven Shea, MD, MS, Senior Vice Dean, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology in Biomedical Informatics
  • Magda Sobieszczyk, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine, Chief of Infectious Diseases 
  • Melissa Stockwell, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Population Family Health, Chief of Child Adolescent Health
  • Olajide Williams, MD, MS, Professor of Neurology, Chief of Staff, Department of Neurology

CUIMC Vaccine Champion Program

The CUIMC Vaccine Champion program involves employees from across CUIMC schools and departments who will serve as vaccine champions and receive training from CUIMC experts in how to offer one-on-one peer conversations and support to their colleagues who have questions about the vaccine. Champions will serve as point people to their departments and arrange opportunities for in-person or virtual get-togethers with those who are contemplating whether to receive the vaccine. The goal is to provide opportunities for listening and interacting among peers and provide employees with additional resources and information as needed. 

Trainers include David Buchholz, MD, senior founding medical director for Primary Care; Shauna Gunaratne, MD, instructor in medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases; Patrice Malone, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry, and Jonathan Touson, senior director of organization effectiveness and optimization at CUIMC.

The CUIMC Vaccine Champion program workgroup includes: 

  • Ansgar Brambrink, MD, PhD
  • Lourival Baptista-Neto, MD
  • Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA
  • Regine Grandmougin, MHA
  • Rudi Odeh-Ramadan, PharmD
  • Magda Sobieszczyk, MD, MPH
  • Melissa Stockwell, MD, MPH
  • Stephen Ferrara, MD 
  • Olajide Williams, MD, MS
  • Melissa Gerdes-Leonard — Human Resources
  • Alicia Samuels, MPH — Communications

New York State Eligibility

Vaccines are being distributed in accordance with New York State guidelines, which establish phased distribution based on need and risk. Under New York guidelines, those eligible for the vaccine as of January 12th, 2021 are in groups 1A and 1B. Additionally, Governor Cuomo announced that beginning February 15, adult New Yorkers with certain underlying chronic medical conditions will qualify for the vaccine. Please see the State's Phased Distribution Eligibility for more information.

Town Hall Recordings