COVID-19 Vaccines

Throughout this pandemic, UNMC has focused on the evolving science to keep our campuses and the communities that we serve functional and safe. As a result, UNMC requires all students, staff and faculty to report they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

From a public health standpoint, vaccination is the right thing to do. The science informs us that vaccinated individuals are better protected from serious disease, hospitalization and death than unvaccinated people. This is true in our own community where nearly all people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

If you have not been vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible. Vaccines are widely available. It takes five to six weeks to go from your initial dose of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to being fully vaccinated. If you get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you will be fully vaccinated 14 days later. For international students and employees, UNMC will accept vaccines identified on the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing.

In addition, if you need a convenient and confidential way to store vaccination confirmation, the UNMC 1-CHECK smartphone app contains technology to store an image of your Federal COVID vaccination registration card. This will be useful for off campus clinical rotations. 

Vaccine Requirement FAQs

Why is UNMC requiring COVID-19 vaccinations?

As a world leader in infectious diseases, UNMC should lead by example. Patients expect the people providing their health care are doing everything they can to keep them safe.

Our employees have been incredible throughout the pandemic. We know our health care providers have faced challenging circumstances and we are committed to doing everything we can to ease the burden on our teams. By requiring COVID-19 vaccination of our staff, this ensures UNMC is part of the solution. The sooner our community and our country reaches herd immunity, the sooner the pandemic will be over.

Who is defined as an employee at UNMC?

If you receive your paycheck from the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, you are considered a UNMC employee. Some physicians and other employees may be dually employed by UNMC and Nebraska Medicine or Children’s Hospital. Employees who are dually employed must follow the vaccine guidelines of the clinical partners.

Does this policy also apply to contracted workers, volunteers and vendors?

Yes. All contracted staff working at UNMC locations and UNMC invited visitors on campus for 7 or greater days are included in the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

I am an employee who does not have patient contact. Am I included?

Yes. All employees, physicians and support staff working at UNMC are included in the COVID-19 vaccine requirement. COVID-19 vaccination is a condition of employment, however, an employee may be exempt from receiving the vaccine with an approved medical or religious accommodation or the employee has a previously approved 100% remote working agreement.

Which vaccines are acceptable for the COVID-19 vaccination requirement?

The three vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States by the FDA: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are all accepted forms of COVID-19 vaccination.

In addition, for personnel who were vaccinated abroad, vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) will meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirement. WHO listed vaccines consist of COVID-19 vaccines by the following manufacturers: Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Serum Institute of India (Covishield), Janssen (J&J), Moderna, Sinopharm/BIBP, Sinovac and Updated Aug. 24, 2021 Novavax.

Employees who participated in the Novavax study, and received both doses of the vaccine, are in compliance with the policy. These can all be tracked in the Health Tracking System.

How long do I have to get my vaccination?

The timeline below outlines the deadlines for vaccination for employees.

  • September 15, 2021
    Deadline to submit a request for exemption due to medical, religious or 100% remote work agreement with pre-existing supervisory approval.
  • September 20, 2021
    Employees and supervisors will be notified of exemption approval/denial.
  • October 22, 2021
    Deadline for all employees to be fully vaccinated.

What is the status of the COVID-19 vaccines with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?

The FDA granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine on Aug. 23, 2021. The FDA has approved the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines under its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Full, permanent approval is expected in the months ahead as the FDA works with the vaccine companies on final details about manufacturing and storage. Note: it is inaccurate to say the vaccines are experimental (experimental means a drug’s safety or effectiveness is unknown) or unapproved by the FDA.

Is it legal for UNMC to require the COVID-19 vaccination?

Yes. Federal courts have determined employers can require a COVID-19 vaccine, just as they can require vaccinations against other diseases. Many other organizations, including large, national health systems, private companies and government entities have already mandated COVID-19 vaccinations. These mandates follow the recommendations of more than 100 medical associations and systems and the list of health care systems and notable national companies requiring employee COVID-19 vaccination grows each day.

If staff retention is a priority, why implement a policy that could lead to turnover?

This policy is a reflection of UNMC’s unwavering commitment to safety – of our staff, students and patients. Vaccination is the best defense against a serious COVID-19 infection that could lead to hospitalization, lifelong health impacts and death.

What if I am only partially vaccinated?

All employees must be fully vaccinated unless they have requested and been approved for an exemption based on, a recognized medical reason, sincerely held religious belief, or pre-approved, 100% remote agreement. Fully vaccinated means having received one dose of a single dose COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) or both doses of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccination series (Moderna and Pfizer). Other vaccines that are listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) are also included.

How do I document my vaccination status in the Health Tracking System?

If you received your vaccine through the employee clinics held in lower Storz Pavilion, your vaccine is already documented in the system. If you received it elsewhere, you will need to document you received it. After receiving your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, log in to the Health Tracking System to record your vaccination status. A link to the Health Tracking System is also available on the Quick Links on the UNMC intranet.

Will proof of vaccination be required? Will I need to submit my vaccine card?

We are trusting employees to accurately report their vaccine status in the Health Tracking System. That said, there will be auditing in place that will require employees to provide Employee Health with proof of their vaccination. Individuals who are not honest in reporting will face corrective action, up to and including termination.

I have previously indicated in the Health Tracking System that I Decline the vaccine. How do I update my status after I receive the vaccine?

  1. Log in to the Health Tracking System
  2. On the right, click “Complete COVID-19 Documentation”
  3. Select “Undo/Reset Record”
  4. Select the appropriate option on the left-hand side to update your COVID-19 vaccine status
  5. If you got your vaccine outside of one of UNMC’s employee COVID-19 vaccine clinics, select “I want to document that I got the COVID-19 vaccine somewhere else” and complete the information about the location, date, manufacturer and lot number of your vaccine
  6. Next, document your second dose by selecting “I want to document that I got the COVID-19 dose 2 vaccine somewhere else” Complete the information about the location, date, manufacturer and lot number of your vaccine and select “Submit”

What circumstances would qualify as an exemption?

Employees who have a recognized medical reason or sincerely held religious belief that prevents them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine may request an exemption to this vaccination policy. Employees with a pre-approved 100% remote work agreement may also request an exemption. Exemption requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Employees receiving an approved exemption from the policy are required to receive regular COVID testing and follow all masking and relevant personal protective equipment (PPE) protocols as outlined in the Nebraska Medicine Universal PPE Guidelines.

Medical exemption requests will be reviewed by a committee of medical experts. Approved medical exemptions may be granted on a temporary basis. Employees will be notified by Human Resources-Employee Relations as to whether their exemption request has been approved, denied or requires more information to be processed.

Religious exemption requests will be reviewed by HR and Legal representatives. Employees will be notified by Human Resources- Employee Relations as to whether their exemption request has been approved, denied or requires more information to be processed. Objections based on personal preference, political views, or sociological or philosophical grounds are not religious beliefs for which an exemption will be granted.

How do I request an exemption?

  1. Complete the relevant forms available at the Request for ADA and Religious Accommodation webpage.
  2. Submit the completed forms to

If employees are 100% remote, do they need to apply for an exemption?

If an employee has been vaccinated- NO
If an employee has NOT been vaccinated- YES.

In this case, the employee should email to request an exemption. HR needs to have an exemption on file along with a copy of the telecommuting agreement which the employee should have if they are 100% remote.

The exemption approval document that the employee and supervisor both sign, will indicate that telecommuting agreements could change based on business need or performance. If the employee is expected to ever work less than 100% remote or have to report to campus, they will be required to adhere to the vaccination requirement.

What if I choose not to be vaccinated?

All UNMC employees must meet the vaccination requirement by Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 or have an approved exemption. Failure to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine requirement will result in corrective and disciplinary action.

If I need to take leave related to COVID-19, how will I be paid?

Employees are reminded that the Emergency Paid Administrative Leave for COVID-related absences expired on June 30, 2021. There are no current plans to reinstate or continue this type of leave. Employees may use other forms of available leave for COVID-related absences including accrued sick leave or vacation leave and may request advancement of leave or crisis leave, if necessary, with manager approval. Employees who have an adverse reaction to the COVID vaccine should contact Employee Health and complete an incident report that will be filed with Worker’s Compensation.

Who can I contact with questions?

Email with any questions you may have.