May 7, 2021: Update on COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Dear Colleagues,

At least 55% of New York City residents who are 18 and over have received one dose of their vaccine, and 41% are fully vaccinated. We strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated and complete their series and ask each of you to encourage your friends, family and community members. The key to ending the pandemic is for everyone to be vaccinated fully.

At present, the FDA is reviewing Pfizer’s data on vaccination of 12-15 year olds and authorization for this age group could come as soon as next week! Pfizer also indicated that they plan to request an expansion of the EUA for ages 2-11 years in September. This would be an important milestone since last week, children made up 22.4% of new SARS-CoV-2 cases, a share that has been growing.

As you may have read, starting this fall, Columbia University has decided to make the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all students who are present on campus. Religious and medical exemptions will be accepted, as they are for the influenza and measles vaccines, in accordance with New York State public health laws. This decision was essential to ensuring the health of Columbia students and the broader University and surrounding community, and also to contain the spread of the virus in New York City, one of the most severely affected locations in the country throughout this past 13 months.

Vaccine Safety

  • The CDC, FDA and NYC have resumed recommending vaccinating with the J&J (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The CDC and FDA had temporarily paused use of the vaccine while they investigated a very small number (0.0002% of vaccinations) of cases of thrombocytopenia (low platelets) and thrombosis (blood clots) among 6.8 million patients. This pause and investigation highlights that vaccine safety is a top priority and processes are in place to monitor safety following an EUA, and to investigate carefully ANY serious events and side effects.
  • Health care providers administering the vaccine and vaccine recipients or caregivers should review the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine and Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers, which have been revised to include information about the risk of this syndrome.

Vaccine Administration

  • Vaccinations continue in the Armory for second dose only.
  • Vaccinations are also continuing in the Black Building and 51 W 51 for faculty, staff, students, family members, patients and community members: AnyNew Yorker 16 years of age and older can schedule appointments in Connect and get vaccinated. Scheduling information is available at the VaccineTogetherNY website.
  • Vaccination for the community has begun in the Wintergarden in CHONY.
  • Patients or community members who are 16-17 years old whose condition may require they be vaccinated at a pediatric specific site can be scheduled at 21 Audubon Saturday clinic.

Additional Reminder

Please continue to wear face coverings (preferably surgical masks or other two-ply face coverings), practice physical distancing, and wash hands frequently, even after you have been vaccinated. These measures, in addition to vaccinations, minimize the opportunity for the virus to replicate and mutate and the disease to spread.

Thank you and stay safe!

Magda Sobieszczyk, MD, MPH
Chief of Infectious Diseases and Co-Chair of the CUIMC COVID-19 Vaccine Committee

Melissa Stockwell, MD, MPH
Chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Health and Co-Chair of the CUIMC COVID-19 Vaccine Committee