Student Employees’ Eligibility for Vaccine Sparks Confusion

Fordham student workers can now receive the COVID-19 vaccine upon meeting specific qualifications



Fordham has not received vaccines yet due to limited supply, but the health center has measures in place to administer doses once a supply is available.


Some student workers are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a part of New York’s phase 1a and 1b groups vaccination distribution plan. Eligibility is currently limited to “front-facing” student employees — workers who must interact with the public as a function of their job on campus. 

The inclusion of front-facing student workers is a recent development that aids Fordham’s ongoing initiative to have as many people vaccinated as possible before the start of the fall semester on Sept. 1. Other Fordham community members eligible to receive the vaccine currently include in-person faculty, instructors and essential university workers. 

Many student employees who do not work in person or who are not front-facing are still ineligible for the vaccine. Cleo Papadopoulos, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’22, is a student worker in Fordham’s Theatre and Visual Arts office but was not eligible for a vaccine.

“At the end of the day, I’m both lucky and thankful that I got the vaccine, but I can’t really say that Fordham had anything to do with it.” Cleo Papadopoulos, FCLC ’22

Papadopoulos said she wished there was more clarity regarding eligibility for the vaccine, as she found it difficult to navigate the vaccination process without clear information from Fordham. 

I remember getting emails saying that in-person employees were eligible to get it, but when I called to confirm, they told me that student workers were not included in that list,” Papadopoulos said. “I don’t know if everyone got these emails or not, but if it was just school employees (including student workers), then it would’ve been better to clarify that student workers didn’t count.”

As of March 30, New Yorkers who are 30 years of age and older can schedule a vaccination appointment. By April 6, New Yorkers who are 16 years of age and older can get vaccinated. Fordham is enrolled in an agreement with the New York Department of Health to serve as a vaccination site. Maureen Keown, director of University Health Services, said the university is ready to begin administering the vaccine whenever doses become more widely available.

“We are approved as a site to offer vaccinations, however, due to limited supply, we have not received any vaccines,” said Keown. “Once we are issued the vaccines, we will start the administration process for those individuals who are included in the phase at that time.” 

Papadopoulos was ultimately able to receive the vaccine, but her eligibility came from underlying health conditions rather than her employment at Fordham University.

“I was pretty happy when I first thought I could be vaccinated, but the prospect of that quickly vanished and I had to wait to get eligibility on my own,” Papadopoulos said. “At the end of the day, I’m both lucky and thankful that I got the vaccine, but I can’t really say that Fordham had anything to do with it.”

Keown said Fordham students seeking clarification on their eligibility should utilize the New York state’s COVID-19 vaccine informational resources

Though the university is not yet able to independently administer vaccines, various Fordham community members have helped facilitate Johnson & Johnson vaccine events hosted by Walgreens open to the public. 

“Vaccinations are safe and important in getting the spread of Covid -19 under control.” Maureen Keown, director of University Health Services

Fordham’s Department of Public Safety, University Health Services and University Emergency Medical Services contributed to two of these events, which took place at the Rose Hill campus earlier this month and were open to eligible New York City residents. 

Keown said these events were incredibly successful and resulted in the vaccination of 425 Fordham community members and people from the surrounding area. Additionally, Keown addressed the possibility of future vaccine events at Fordham. 

On March 29, the university announced that eligible students, faculty and staff “can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Doctor Urgent Medical Care, the practice of Denise Nunez, M.D. FAAP, on Fordham Road,” the email stated. The doses offered at the off-campus site are the Moderna vaccination.

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With the reintroduction of in-person instruction set to take place on Fordham campuses this fall, Keown said the university urges Fordham community members to get vaccinated whenever they become eligible to do so. 

“Vaccinations are safe and important in getting the spread of Covid -19 under control,” Keown said. “We encourage all Fordham community members, who are eligible, to get the vaccine as soon as possible.”