By: Ariel Kahan  | 

YU Student Employees Begin Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine as NYS Eligibility Widens

Yeshiva University student workers — such as resident advisors (RAs), writing center tutors and dining staff — began receiving COVID-19 vaccines over the last few months.

The vaccination process involves receiving two shots three or four weeks apart from one another. According to a Feb. 11 email from Vice Provost for Student Affairs Dr. Chaim Nissel, two weeks after their second shot, students with both doses of the vaccine are exempted from quarantine, even if they were directly exposed to someone with COVID-19, assuming they do not experience symptoms. However, students who are exposed to someone with COVID-19 more than 90 days after their second shot need to quarantine. Students are still required to follow standard protocol, including wearing masks, social distancing and providing negative PCR tests before returning to campus after extended breaks. They also must participate in the YU COVID-19 Monitoring Program, which requires students on campus to test twice a week.

“YU does not advise students or staff about eligibility,” Nissel told The Commentator.  He noted that “it is up to each individual to determine their own eligibility and if eligible, to sign up for the vaccine.”

As of publication, YU’s Human Resources Department did not respond to The Commentator’s request for an official count of student workers.

Although YU did not inform students about eligibility, some student workers learned about it on their own and scheduled their own appointments. Adam Auerbach (YC ‘22), a tutor at the Wilf Campus Writing Center, learned of his eligibility through a friend. He said, “I found out I was eligible from one of my friends who had called and spoke to the Department of Health on Feb. 3, and then I was able to schedule an appointment for the next day, Feb. 4.”   

Student workers believe getting the vaccine is important and allows them to serve in their campus roles more safely and effectively. Auerbach added, “I’m very grateful I was able to get the vaccine. It has given me some peace of mind in terms of getting COVID-19 myself, but more importantly, it has allowed me to interact with my friends and family without having to worry as much about giving them COVID-19.”  

Adina Passy (SCW ‘21), an RA on the Beren Campus, believes that vaccinating student workers is an important priority, as student workers do jobs with high exposure. “To be able to create the ideal community, we are subject to a lot of exposure, such as creating floor parties and just generally interacting with a lot of people,” she said. “That's why I am really happy that RAs can get the vaccine.” Some RAs also engage with students who are isolated and quarantined in residence halls.

This news comes as YU has seen a steady decline in COVID-19 cases over the spring semester. Only two positive cases have been detected at YU since Feb. 27, according to New York State’s COVID-19 Tracker, a program that monitors COVID-19 in higher education.  From Feb. 13 through Feb. 26, 18 cases were recorded, and in the two weeks prior, cases reached a record high of 28. The expansion in eligibility reflects a larger national trend of progress with the mass-vaccination campaign. As of March 2,  15% of New Yorkers received at least one dose of the vaccine.  The U.S. is currently administering 2 million shots a day, surpassing the 1.5 million goal of the Biden administration. With the approval of a third vaccine, the U.S. is on pace to have enough doses available for every adult by the end of May.

Correction: This article was updated to remove a potentially misleading explanation of how student workers may qualify for the vaccine and to include the variation in wait time by Moderna and Pfizer for the first and second vaccine shot.


Photo Caption: Student workers began receiving COVID-19 over the last few months. 

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University