Employee Health & Wellness

Temporary Stay on Federal CMS Vaccine Mandate as of Nov. 30

U.S. District Court ruling means CMS Interim Final Rule will not be implemented/enforced at UTMB, pending further Court order. View update from President Raimer.

Federal COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

On Nov. 4, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued its Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule, which applies to all Medicare and Medicaid-certified providers and supplier types, such as UTMB.

UTMB currently intends to comply with this federal emergency regulation and requirements related to the COVID-19 vaccine mandates. This federal regulation will apply to the following, both current and new, regardless of clinical responsibility or patient contact:

  • All UTMB employees, including faculty
  • Licensed practitioners, including community physicians with hospital privileges at UTMB
  • Students
  • Trainees
  • Volunteers
  • Contracted staff

This federal regulation will apply to all of the these groups, even if they perform duties offsite, as they may enter into a CMS-regulated facility during the course and scope of their employment and/or association with UTMB.   

All individuals listed will be required to get the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2021. Additionally, all individuals listed above who did not get a single-dose vaccine will be required to get the second dose of a two-dose COVD-19 vaccine for full vaccination by Jan. 4, 2022.

Requirements for Compliance

Every UTMB employee, student, volunteer and contractor must take one of the following steps by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2021, to continue working, attending class or volunteering at UTMB:

  1. If you are not vaccinated and are not requesting an exemption, please get your vaccine as soon as possible. You can schedule online at COVID-19 Vaccine or contact your local health care provider, pharmacy or health department.
  2. If you are already vaccinated (or are getting vaccinated between now and Dec. 6) but received your vaccine at a place other than UTMB,  please scan and email your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card to Employee Health at emphlthc@utmb.edu. Students may upload a copy of your vaccination card using this online form.
  3. If you are not capable of being vaccinated due to a medical condition for which vaccines are contraindicated or religious beliefs, observances or practices, please request an exemption by submitting the appropriate form below. 

Frequently Asked Questions

These frequently asked questions have been adapted from the CMS COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule FAQs. To view all CMS FAQs, click here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate FAQs

  • Who is covered under this federal regulation?

    This federal regulation applies to the following groups, both current and new, regardless of clinical responsibility or patient contact:

    • All UTMB employees, including faculty
    • Licensed practitioners, including community physicians with UTMB privileges
    • Students
    • Trainees
    • Volunteers
    • Contracted staff
  • Would a physician with admitting privileges in one of UTMB's hospitals be covered under this regulation?
    Yes, a physician admitting and/or treating patients in-person within a UTMB facility subject to the CMS health and safety regulations and included as a part of this regulation must be vaccinated so that UTMB is compliant.
  • When must individuals be vaccinated for UTMB to remain compliant with this regulation?

    All UTMB employees, students, volunteers and contractors are required to get the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2021. Additionally, all individuals listed above who did not get a single-dose vaccine will be required to get the second dose of a two-dose COVD-19 vaccine for full vaccination by Jan. 4, 2022.

  • How does CMS define “fully vaccinated” for the purposes of this regulation?

    For purposes of this regulation, CMS currently considers individuals fully vaccinated if it has been two weeks or more since they completed a primary vaccination series for COVID-19. However, individuals who have completed the primary series for the vaccine received by Jan. 4, 2022, are considered to have met these requirements, even if they have not yet completed the 14-day waiting period required for full vaccination.

    The completion of a primary vaccination series for COVID-19 is defined in the rule as the administration of a single-dose vaccine (such as the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 Vaccine), or the administration of all required doses of a multi-dose vaccine (such as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (interchangeable with the licensed Comirnaty Vaccine) or the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine). Additionally, individuals who receive vaccines listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use that are not approved or authorized by the FDA or as a part of a clinical trial are also considered to have completed the vaccination series in accordance with CDC guidelines.

  • Which vaccines count toward the regulation?
    CMS expects that staff will receive a vaccine licensed or authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which currently includes the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (interchangeable with the licensed Comirnaty vaccine), Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, and the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 Vaccine. Facilities will also be in compliance if they allow staff to work who received a vaccine listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use that is not approved or authorized by the FDA, or who received a vaccine during their participation in a clinical trial.
  • What if an individual received a vaccine outside of the United States?
    CMS expects that vaccine administration will occur within the United States for the majority of individuals and that those will receive a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for emergency use or licensed by the FDA. However, it is permissible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of the United States. Eligible COVID-19 vaccinations administered to individuals outside of the United States include those that are FDA licensed or authorized for emergency use or those that are listed by the WHO for emergency use.
  • Does “fully vaccinated” include additional doses or booster shots? For example, a third dose of mRNA vaccines is now recommended for individuals who are immunocompromised, and boosters are recommended or available for individuals who are 65 or older?

    For purposes of this regulation, CMS currently considers individuals fully vaccinated if it has been two weeks or more since they completed a primary vaccination series for COVID-19. However, individuals who have completed the primary series for the vaccine received by Jan. 4, 2022, are considered to have met these requirements, even if they have not yet completed the 14-day waiting period required for full vaccination. A third dose or booster shot is not required to be considered fully vaccinated. 

    The completion of a primary vaccination series for COVID-19 is defined in the rule as the administration of a single-dose vaccine (such as the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 Vaccine), or the administration of all required doses of a multi-dose vaccine (such as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (interchangeable with the licensed Comirnaty Vaccine) or the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine).

  • What if an individual received a mix of vaccines as part of their COVID-19 primary vaccination series? Does that count toward the vaccination requirement?
    Yes, individuals may be considered compliant with the requirements within this regulation if they have received any combination of two doses of a vaccine licensed or authorized by the FDA or listed on the WHO emergency use list as part of a two-dose series.
  • Will there be different requirements for individuals currently associated with UTMB and new employees, students, volunteers or contractors?
    No, all individuals to whom the vaccine requirement applies must have received, at a minimum, the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine by 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2021, prior to providing any care, treatment or other services for UTMB and/or its patients.
  • Does the regulation include testing requirements for unvaccinated individuals?
    No, this regulation requires individual vaccination only.
  • Are exemptions allowed?
    Yes, UTMB will allow for the following exemptions to staff in accordance with federal law:
    • Recognized medical conditions for which vaccines are contraindicated; and
    • Religious beliefs, observances or practices.

    For CDC guidance regarding medical exemptions, click here. For EEOC guidance regarding religious exemptions, click here

  • Is there provision for certain individuals for whom a vaccination should be delayed, for example, because of a recent COVID-19 diagnosis?

    Yes, this regulation allows for individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination must be temporarily delayed, as recommended by the CDC, due to clinical precautions and consideration. Individuals subject to a CDC-recommended deferral should request a medical exemption through the established process. 


  • Does the regulation include exemptions for individuals that show they have COVID-19 antibodies?
    No, individuals who have previously had COVID-19 are not exempt from these vaccination requirements. Available evidence indicates that COVID-19 vaccines offer better protection than natural immunity alone and that vaccines, even after prior infection, help prevent reinfections. CDC recommends that all people be vaccinated, regardless of their history of symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • What is the process for requesting a medical exemption?

    Employees who are not capable of being vaccinated due to a medical condition for which vaccines are contraindicated or who are subject to a CDC-recommended vaccine deferral may request an exemption by printing, completing and scanning/emailing the Medical Exemption to COVID-19 Vaccination Request Form to covid_vaccine_exemption@utmb.edu.

    The form requires certification from a health care professional. The completed form should be submitted to UTMB by Nov. 19, 2021, to allow adequate time for consideration and response. For CDC guidance regarding medical exemptions, click here.

    UTMB has established a Medical Exemption Committee to review all requests for a medical exemption. Members of the committee are appointed by UTMB General Counsel. Individuals seeking a medical exemption will be notified in writing of the status of their request. 

  • What happens if an individual is not able to obtain a medical certification from their health care provider before the Nov. 19, 2021, exemption request deadline?

    Requests for both medical and religious exemptions will be accepted after the Nov. 19, 2021, deadline; however, UTMB must adhere to the Dec. 5, 2021, deadline imposed by the federal vaccine mandate. Individuals should submit a complete exemption request as soon as possible. UTMB has established committees to review all requests for exemption, and it is the committees’ goal to review the requests quickly so as not to interfere with an individual’s ability to continue working, studying or volunteering at UTMB. 

  • What is the process for requesting a religious exemption?

    Employees who are not capable of being vaccinated due to religious beliefs, observances or practices may request an exemption by printing, completing and scanning/emailing the Religious Exemption to COVID-19 Vaccination Request Form to covid_vaccine_exemption@utmb.eduThe completed form should be submitted to UTMB by Nov. 19, 2021, to allow adequate time for consideration and response. For EEOC guidance regarding religious exemptions, click here.

    UTMB has established a Religious Exemption Committee to review all requests for a religious exemption. Members of the committee are appointed by UTMB General Counsel. Individuals seeking a religious exemption will be notified in writing of the status of their request. 

  • What should an employee do if they were vaccinated at UTMB but received an email indicating we do not have a COVID-19 vaccination record on file for them?

    If an employee was vaccinated at UTMB but received an email indicating the institution does not have a COVID-19 vaccination record on file for them, the employee should email a scan of their COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card to Employee Health at emphlthc@utmb.edu with their employee ID in the subject line. 

  • What happens if an employee does not take any action by 11:59 p.m., Dec. 5, 2021?

    An employee who does not get a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine or the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, submit their vaccination record, or have an approved exemption by 11:59 p.m., Dec. 5, 2021, will no longer be able to work. At that time, the employee will use their personal, non-sick leave accruals. When all applicable accruals are exhausted, the employee will be transitioned to a personal leave of absence without pay. Please note that the employee will be required to pay their share of insurance premiums in accordance with applicable billing procedures while on leave without pay.

    An employee who chooses to get vaccinated with a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine after 11:59 p.m., Dec. 5, 2021, will be eligible to return to work immediately. An employee who chooses to get vaccinated with a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine after 11:59 p.m., Dec. 5, 2021, will be eligible to return to work only after receiving the second dose of the vaccine.

    The employee will be reinstated into their previous work assignment if it is still available. If the employee’s previous work assignment is not available, the employee will remain on leave using their personal, non-sick leave accruals or leave of absence without pay while applying for other positions at UTMB.

  • How will this regulation be enforced?

    CMS expects state survey agencies to conduct onsite compliance reviews of these requirements in two ways:

    • State survey agencies would assess all facilities for these requirements during the standard recertification survey.
    • State survey agencies would assess vaccination status of staff on all complaint surveys.

    While onsite, surveyors will review UTMB's COVID-19 vaccination policies and procedures, the number of resident and staff COVID-19 cases over the last 4 weeks, and a list of all staff and their vaccination status. This information, in addition to interviews and observations, will be used to determine the compliance of the provider or supplier with these requirements. Additionally, accrediting organizations will be required to update their survey processes to assess facilities they accredit for compliance with vaccination regulations.