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UAB no longer mandating employees to be vaccinated

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 10:36 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - UAB Hospital is no longer requiring employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine, about one month after mandating the shot.

UAB officials said they are reversing the vaccine mandate while they wait for details from the government about a potential federal mandate, but state leaders said this reversal wont make a huge impact right now.

President of the Alabama Hospital Association Dr. Don Williamson said most hospitals in the state aren’t requiring the shot right now anyway, UAB was one of few.

He said hospital staff have high vaccination numbers, anywhere from 50 to 80% in different locations, which Williamson said many achieved through incentive programs.

UAB is still offering $400 to employees willing to be vaccinated, and other hospitals are offering time off and prizes.

Williamson said overall, hospitals want vaccinated employees to help staffing issues, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there needs to be a mandate. He said it is up to each hospital to make the decision based on their staff and patient’s needs.

“It’s not a small issue if we have unvaccinated employees,” Williamson said. “Hospitals have successfully navigated the waters of getting people vaccinated and for the most part, they have been able to do it without mandates.”

Dr. Williamson said it is too soon to tell if the state will lose hospital staff if the federal government does require hospital vaccine mandates, but he said if the shot is required, there will be religious and medical exemptions for those who need it.

Read UAB’s full statement below:

The UAB Health System’s policy requiring COVID vaccines for its workers was implemented in August prior to the announcement of forthcoming federal directives. President Biden issued an executive order Sept. 9 indicating that federal rules and regulations will be issued in the coming weeks that will require COVID vaccines for workers at health care facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid dollars. Because UAB Health System must follow federal law, UAB Health System will remove its vaccine policy at this time. UAB Health System will wait for the detailed federal guidance to develop a replacement vaccine policy in order to ensure full compliance with federal law. The safety of our patients, employees, friends and families is of the utmost importance. Because vaccines are safe, effective and a critical tool to end the pandemic, and because it is expected that federal guidelines will require the vaccine, we continue to strongly encourage those who have not been vaccinated to get a free COVID vaccine as soon as possible. The voluntary $400 incentive payment available to vaccinated employees who want it remains available.

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