An update on UVA’s employee vaccine requirement
To UVA Faculty and Staff:
Earlier this month, a federal district court temporarily suspended the enforcement of President Biden’s executive order requiring all federal contractors to mandate vaccinations for their employees. The ultimate enforceability of the executive order will be settled in the courts in the future. That executive order was one of the reasons why the University established its employee vaccination requirements, which has raised questions about what our policy will be going forward.
After a careful review of the court’s ruling, as well as current and projected public health conditions, we have decided to keep the University’s vaccine requirement in place, meaning that all University employees must receive their final vaccine dose or be granted religious or medical exemption by Jan. 4. Those who do not comply with this requirement will be subject to disciplinary actions that could include termination. UVA Human Resources offers more information on this requirement, including how to apply for an exemption.
We based this decision on several important considerations. First, even though the district court’s order temporarily halts enforcement of the mandate, there is great uncertainty regarding the timeline and final outcome of the pending legal challenge. University leaders believe the most prudent approach is to continue our efforts to safeguard the health and safety of our community by requiring COVID-19 vaccination in light of the omicron variant and quickly evolving nature of the pandemic.
Second, the overwhelming majority of University employees have already complied with this requirement. To date, 98.6% of the Academic Division employees not subject to OCH-002 are fully vaccinated or have received an approved exemption. Many of these employees overcame their initial reluctance to get vaccinated once the University instituted its current requirement, and we believe that holding all employees to the same standard is the fairest thing to do.
Third, we have seen a worrying shift in the progression of the pandemic since this requirement was enacted earlier this semester. As winter begins, cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in Virginia and all over the world. Early indications are that the new omicron variant is more contagious than previous variants and could lead to a rise in viral prevalence. Right now, our most effective tools to limit the spread of the virus within our community are vaccines and booster shots for those who have already been vaccinated.
By maintaining our vaccination requirement for UVA employees, we will continue putting the health and safety of this community first.
With respect to booster shots, we continue to urge everyone who is over 16 and at least six months past their primary vaccination date if they received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or two months past their vaccination date if they received Johnson & Johnson, to get a booster as soon as possible.
In light of rising cases and the omicron variant, University leaders and public health experts are actively considering requiring the booster for UVA community members for the spring semester and we will update you as soon as a decision is made.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers more information about booster shots here. For information about scheduling your vaccination or booster in this region, click here.
Thank you for your continued attention to these and all public health measures and for all the hard work you have put in to making this semester a success. We wish you a safe, festive and restful holiday season.
Chief Operating Officer