Communications

Office of the President


A message from the president:

  • An update on the federal CMS vaccine mandate

    November 23, 2021, 15:45 PM by Stephen Hadley

    As a follow-up to the Nov. 11 announcement of the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), I wanted to provide these updates and reminders to all UTMB employees, students/trainees, volunteers and contractors:

    Deadline for vaccination/approved exemption

    • Compliance with the federal mandate requires some level of COVID-19 vaccination (at minimum: a one-dose vaccine or the first dose of a two-dose vaccine) or an approved medical or religious exemption by 11:59 p.m., Dec. 5.
    • Individuals who want to continue working, studying or volunteering at UTMB as of 11:59 p.m., Dec. 5, must submit documentation of vaccination or have an approved exemption by that time.
    • Individuals who receive the first dose of a two-dose vaccine by 11:59 p.m., Dec. 5, must receive the second dose by 11:59 p.m., Jan. 3.

    Need the vaccine?

    • You can schedule your vaccine with UTMB online.
    • If you don’t live close to a UTMB vaccination location, you can contact your health care provider, local retail pharmacy or county health department.
    • If you obtain a vaccine from a place other than UTMB Employee Health, please scan a copy of your vaccination record to Employee Health or Student Health by 11:59 p.m., Dec. 5.

    Already vaccinated?

    • If you are already vaccinated but received an email from Human Resources indicating UTMB does not have a record of your vaccine, please submit your COVID-19 vaccination documentation to Employee Health or Student Health by 11:59 p.m., Dec. 5.
    • This includes individuals who received their vaccine from someplace other than UTMB Employee Health (e.g., your personal UTMB physician, other health care provider, an outside pharmacy).
    • If you are already vaccinated and did NOT receive an email from HR indicating otherwise, UTMB has your vaccination on record and you are in compliance.

    Exemption requests

    Missing the 11:59 p.m., Dec. 5, 2021, federal compliance deadline

    • Individuals who have NOT done the following by the 11:59 p.m., Dec. 5, federal compliance deadline will not be permitted to work, attend class or volunteer at UTMB until compliance with the federal mandate is achieved:
      • Submitted vaccine documentation if requested to do so via email by HR, or
      • Received the vaccine, or
      • Received an approved medical or religious observance, belief or practice exemption.
    • These individuals may use paid vacation/holiday/compensatory time accruals (no sick leave) or leave without pay until they achieve compliance with the federal mandate through either an approved vaccine or approved medical or religious observance, belief or practice exemption.

    The latest information on the CMS federal mandate, including FAQs and exemption request forms, is available online.

    UTMB has always supported vaccination to protect our workforce, student body, patients, volunteers and communities, while also respecting the choices of individuals. However, it is essential for us to comply with the CMS federal mandate. Thank you for taking the appropriate action now to preserve our mission.

    Ben G. Raimer, MD, MA, FAAP

    President

  • Federal vaccine mandate will apply to all UTMB employees, students, volunteers and contractors 

    November 11, 2021, 16:48 PM by Stephen Hadley

    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.

    Our workforce, student body and volunteers are essential to our mission. Compliance with these vaccine mandates is equally essential. Non-compliance would jeopardize significant federal funding that is critical to our training programs, research priorities and health care services.

    As a result, UTMB currently intends to comply with this Federal emergency regulation and requirements related to the COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Specifically, under this Federal regulation, UTMB will be required to complete the following: 

    • Establish a process or plan to vaccinate all eligible staff, which has been defined as employees, licensed practitioners, students, trainees, volunteers and contracted staff; 
    • Establish a process or plan to provide exemptions and accommodations for those who are exempt; and 
    • Establish a process or plan for tracking and documenting staff vaccinations.

    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 UTMB privileges 
    • Students 
    • Trainees 
    • Volunteers 
    • Contracted Staff 

    This Federal regulation will apply to all of the above 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 above will be required to get the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 6, 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.

    Because this Federal regulation does not include a testing option for unvaccinated staff, vaccination will be the only option. 

    However, 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. 

    We need your help to ensure UTMB’s compliance. Every UTMB employee, student, volunteer and contractor MUST take one of the following steps on or before Dec. 6, 2021, in order to continue working, attending class or volunteering at UTMB: 

    • 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 physician, pharmacy or health department. 
    • 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 email a scan of your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card to Employee Health or Student Health
    • If you are not capable of being vaccinated due to a medical condition for which vaccines are contraindicated or due to religious beliefs, observances or practices, please request an exemption by completing the appropriate form and submit it to covid_vaccine_exemption@utmb.edu by Nov. 19, 2021, to ensure time for consideration and compliance.  

    Important Note: The medical exemption request requires a health care provider’s signature, so do not delay if you plan to request this exemption. 

    We will always respect the diversity of our university community—including diversity of opinions. To this point, we have been able to agree to disagree on matters concerning the COVID-19 vaccine. But now is the time for quick action. For the sake of our historic mission and the health and well-being of everyone we serve, I urge you to take the appropriate steps by Dec. 6, 2021, to ensure UTMB’s compliance with these federal mandates. 

    For more information, visit this web page for related FAQs and forms. 

    Thank you for your continued commitment and hard work to improve the health of our communities. 

    Ben G. Raimer, MD, MA, FAAP

    President