COVID-19 vaccine to be required for all UNMC faculty, students and staff

August 13, 2021

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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 will now require all students, staff and faculty to report they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 22, 2021.

With a mission to transform all lives for a healthier future, and as a leader in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, UNMC has determined that based on current understanding of virus transmission and status of the pandemic it is imperative to adjust our safety guidance and implement this requirement, in partnership with our health care partners to keep our learning communities and clinical environment safe. The Chancellor, Vice Chancellors, Deans and Directors have openly declared their successful vaccination status.

Requests for exemptions may be made on the grounds of religious beliefs or medical circumstances. All requests for exemptions will need to be submitted before Sept. 15, 2021. Students must complete a vaccination exemption request form. Faculty/staff must complete the relevent vaccine requirement exemption form. The faculty/staff forms can be found on the HR-Employee Resources website.

In addition, students who are enrolled 100 percent remotely and staff who historically have been working 100 percent remotely with pre-existing supervisory approval, both with no clinical responsibilities and no planned visits to campus, also may apply for exemption from the vaccine requirement should they so desire. Nevertheless, for their own safety and that of the community, these groups are strongly encouraged to undergo vaccination.

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The decision to require COVID vaccinations complements the actions of our clinical partners - including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Nebraska Medicine, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and others - who have required COVID-19 vaccinations for their employees. Our faculty, staff, students and residents work in these facilities, as well as in UNMC clinics in the College of Dentistry and the Munroe-Meyer Institute, where vulnerable patients are receiving care. Not being vaccinated puts vulnerable patients, younger children who cannot yet receive the vaccine, and our immunocompromised colleagues at risk, while also creating a major challenge in fulfilling clinical duties and in participating in required clinical rotations for students.

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UNMC’s decision is also consistent with the calls by dozens of major health care organizations, including the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, American Academy of PAs, American Pharmacists Association, American Society of Health System Pharmacists, American Academy of Pediatrics and others recommending health care employers and member schools require vaccination against COVID-19. Others, including the American Dental Association, strongly encourage vaccination, and in June, reported that nearly 90 percent of dentists are fully vaccinated for 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.

UNMC faculty, students and staff must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 22, 2021. All requests for exemptions need to be submitted before Sept. 15, 2021, for students, faculty and staff.

Failure to do so could result in significant employment or academic disciplinary action.  Students who are not vaccinated could have their course of study suspended, and therefore not be able to continue enrollment this semester and/or complete graduation requirements. UNMC cannot guarantee that opportunities for required clinical experiential learning will be allowed or available in a timely manner for unvaccinated students given the vaccine requirements of our clinical partners across the state and nation.

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.

UNMC will require boosters if and when the science determines they are needed. More information on this will be provided as it becomes available.

Vaccination status must be recorded in the Health Tracking System. If you received both vaccines through UNMC/Nebraska Medicine, your information already is recorded. If you received one or both vaccines at another location, enter the Health Tracking System to record this information.

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.

Turning the page on this pandemic begins with getting vaccinated and the widely known non-pharmacological practices. Thank you for doing your part to keep our communities well.