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Saturday, June 25, 2022

UW Health announces employee booster mandate

UW Health workers must receive a booster by May 2. Failure to comply could result in job termination.

UW Health providers, staff, students and volunteers are required to get a COVID-19 booster shot by May 2, UW Health announced Wednesday. 

Vaccine efficiency diminishes over time and recent data shows that a booster vaccine significantly reduces the likelihood of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, UW Health said. A booster dose can be received five months after the second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine dose, or two months after a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

UW Health implemented a vaccine requirement last year which resulted in 96% of employees choosing to get vaccinated. Dr. Jeff Pothof, UW Health’s chief quality officer, expects similar compliance with the booster mandate due to workers’ first-hand experiences treating COVID-19 patients. 

“Our staff have been incredibly supportive of vaccination efforts in our system, our community and our state,” Pothof said. “They see first-hand how important it is to get a booster as we deal with the omicron surge.”

If those required to receive a booster shot do not do so by May 2, employees may face consequences, including termination of their employment, the press release stated. Exemptions from the mandate can be filed for those with religious convictions or medical conditions that prevent them from being eligible for the vaccine. 

UnityPoint Health-Meriter and SSM Health, two other health clinics in Dane County, have not announced booster vaccine requirements but encourage their employees to receive a booster vaccine if eligible. 

“While we strongly encourage everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose, it is not required at this time,” SSM Health spokesperson Kim Sveum said. “We continue to evaluate the situation.”

On Wednesday, Dane County had 121 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, the lowest level since Dec. 28. Twenty-two patients were in intensive care, the lowest since Nov. 12, the Public Health Madison & Dane County said. 

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