ITHACA, N.Y.—All three local colleges—Cornell University, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College—have been approved as COVID-19 vaccination sites by New York State, according to reports late last week. The approvals were confirmed to the Ithaca Voice by Tompkins County after being initially reported by the Cornell Daily Sun.

It is unclear when the schools will be able to facilitate vaccine administration, or if they intend to start during this current academic year. Tompkins County spokesperson Dominick Recckio said that other than the approvals, the county has not received further instruction regarding how to proceed with the vaccination sites. Additionally, it’s also unknown whether or not the schools will be able (or willing) to administer the vaccine to the general public or restrict their vaccines to only students and staff of their respective schools.

The state’s decision is sure to help Cornell achieve its recently announced mandate that all students who are returning for on-campus classes in Fall 2021 must be vaccinated (with medical and religious exemptions honored). According to a school official, Cornell administration was still mulling whether or not to require vaccinations for staff and faculty members, as of Friday, April 2.

In Tompkins County, there are currently no state-run vaccination sites. The county has established and operates a mass vaccination clinic at the Shops at Ithaca Mall with Cayuga Health System, while Kinney Drugs’ two locations in the county have also been administering the vaccine to certain populations. Thousands of county residents have also gone elsewhere for their vaccines, such as the two closest state-run sites at SUNY-Binghamton and the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.

Cornell and TC3 spokespeople either declined to comment or said they did not have enough information to talk about their schools vaccination distribution programs.

“We are eager to play a role in getting our campus community members vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Abby Butler, Cornell spokesperson.

Ithaca College’s spokesperson did not yet return a request for comment.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com