UW-Health requiring COVID-19 vaccines for staff

MADISON (WKBT) — UW Health will now require all medical providers and staff members to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, just as it does for the flu vaccine, it announced Wednesday.

While 90% of UW Health’s staff are already fully vaccinated, there is room for further improvement and there is an opportunity to send a good message to patients, staff and the broader community, according to Dr. Jeff Pothof, chief quality officer, UW Health.

“These vaccines are safe; they are effective at preventing transmission; and for those who do contract COVID-19, they reduce the possibility of serious illness, hospitalizations or even death,” Pothof said. “As we confront the rapid spread of COVID-19 throughout Wisconsin, driven by the delta variant, we want to do everything possible to protect our staff, our patients and our community.”

As part of UW Health’s new policy, employees must start their COVID-19 vaccination no later than Oct. 1 and receive a second dose (or final dose for single-dose vaccines) by Nov. 1. Staff who have a documented medical condition that prevents them from being vaccinated or a religious conviction as defined in state law can file for an exemption to the vaccine requirement.

“Throughout almost 18 months of pandemic response, the safety of our staff, our patients and our community has guided every decision we made,” Pothof said. “Today we are taking a next important step to vaccinate our community, because these vaccines are the most powerful tool we have in our efforts to end this long pandemic.”