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
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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