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Emory University will require all faculty and staff to get COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 Metro ATL

Emory University will require all faculty and staff to get COVID-19 vaccine

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Hannah Addis holds a vial of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Each vial contains 6 doses. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Atlanta, GA — Emory University on July 27 announced that all faculty and staff must get the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus, a reversal of its earlier position of strongly encouraging employees to get the vaccine.

President Gregory L. Fenves in a July 27 email announced the policy change.

“All Emory University faculty and staff members must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the fall semester,” he wrote.

The new policy doesn’t apply to Emory Healthcare employees, a spokesperson said. That could change, however.

“Emory Healthcare has not yet required COVID-19 vaccination for our employees, as we previously communicated that we planned to require vaccination upon full FDA approval,” the spokesperson said. “However, due to the significant uptick in COVID cases caused by the Delta variant, we are currently reviewing this plan and will communicate any potential changes to our team members first. We strongly encourage employees to get vaccinated now to protect themselves, their patients, loved ones and our community.”

Emory’s students already are required to get the vaccine.

Earlier this month, the university received a petition with more than 162 signatures asking for mandatory vaccinations for the University’s more than 30,000 employees.

Previously, the Association of American Medical Colleges, of which Emory is a member, issued a statement recommending Medical School and Teaching Hospitals mandate vaccines.

Fenves email notes that people can still opt out of the vaccine under certain conditions. Here is his full letter to Emory staff:

Dear Emory University Community,

We are a month away from the start of the fall semester and the full return to campus. I know many of us are looking forward to carrying out our educational and research missions through in-person teaching, learning, and scholarship. And I sense the excitement building as we look forward to seeing friends, meeting new people, and experiencing Emory’s renewed energy in Atlanta and Oxford.

The COVID-19 vaccines—which Emory researchers played a role in developing and testing—have been highly effective and are our strongest defense against the virus. Yet the pandemic is not over. With the spread of the Delta variant and rising COVID-19 cases in Georgia, we must remain committed to protecting the health of the Emory community, and it starts with getting vaccinated.

Today, I’m announcing a new policy in response to current regional COVID-19 conditions:

All Emory University faculty and staff members must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the fall semester. 

Emory community members can sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, free of charge, via Emory Forward. If you are in the process of being vaccinated, you must continue to take a weekly test until fully vaccinated (two weeks after your final dose). As previously announced, all Emory students must also be vaccinated to return to in-person learning this fall.

Emory staff and faculty members can apply for a vaccination exemption based on medical contraindications or strong personal objections. We ask that all exemptions be submitted no later than August 16. Community members who have an exemption will still be required to complete a COVID-19 screening test once a week. Screening tests can be scheduled online.

Currently, more than 85% of Emory faculty, staff, and students are fully vaccinated. The recent rise in COVID-19 cases is connected to a surge in transmission among unvaccinated individuals, and although the Emory vaccination percentages are high, we must do even better.

A follow-up message with further details on the updated policies—including how to submit an exemption request—will be sent later today by Amir St. Clair, associate vice president and executive director of COVID-19 response and recovery.

We are continuing to monitor COVID-19 throughout our city and region, along with the latest CDC recommendations, and will adjust Emory’s policies—including mask wearing—as needed for the health of the community. As a reminder, all Emory community members are currently required to wear masks when inside campus buildings, except when eating or drinking. If future conditions warrant, we may also increase the frequency of testing and/or expand the range of people who will need to be tested depending on the public health situation.

I’d like to thank you all for doing your part to keep our community healthy during these challenging times. I can’t wait to see you in person in just a few short weeks!


Gregory L. Fenves


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