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Emory Healthcare employees now required to get COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1

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Emory Healthcare employees now required to get COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1

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Atlanta, GA — Emory Healthcare employees will be required to receive their COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1.

Currently, more than 70% of EHC employees already are vaccinated. Today’s announcement follows an earlier announcement by Emory University requiring all faculty and staff to get the vaccine. Emory’s students already are required to get the vaccine.

“The move to a COVID-19 vaccination requirement is not unique to EHC,” the announcement to Emory Healthcare employees says. “Several health care organizations, universities and employers locally and across the U.S. have announced similar requirements. It is also consistent with expert national guidelines from many of the leading professional organizations.”

There will be limited exceptions for people who don’t want to receive the vaccine.

“EHC staff and providers can apply for a vaccination exemption based on validated medical contraindications or religious beliefs,” the announcement says.

Here is the full announcement sent to Emory Healthcare employees on Aug. 1.

Team EHC,

Over the last several weeks, we have seen a significant increase in COVID-19 infections in metro Atlanta, the Southeast and our nation, resulting in a rapid rise in hospital admissions. This resurgence has been driven by a combination of the rapidly spreading Delta variant and our community’s low vaccination rate. As this significant spike in infections becomes more serious, we have a commitment to provide a safe environment for both our care teams and patients.

At this time, we have made the decision to require the COVID-19 vaccination for all providers and employees with an expectation to have received their COVID-19 vaccination shots by Oct. 1, 2021 (one dose of J&J or two of either Moderna or Pfizer).

While this is a change from earlier direction, our decision is based on our commitment to provide the safest environment to care for patients and to protect our staff, providers and community. It is the right thing to do from a public health perspective, and we have heard from many of you on the importance of our leadership within the community. Not only does this create a safe environment for our patients but for each of us.

The COVID-19 vaccines – which Emory researchers played a role in developing and testing – have been highly effective, have an excellent safety record, and are our strongest defense against the virus. Widespread vaccination is also the best way to get back to life without masks and other COVID-19-related restrictions. The greater the number of unvaccinated individuals in the community, the longer COVID-19 will persist and the greater the likelihood of the emergence of potentially even more worrisome and dangerous future variants.

COVID Vaccination Next Steps
Complete the following steps by Oct. 1, 2021, to fulfill the EHC COVID vaccination requirement:

  • Get vaccinated: COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the community. You may get vaccinated at any community location, such as your local pharmacy, grocery store or Department of Public Health location. Vaccination is fully covered by Emory insurance and is free of charge for everyone. Click here to search for a specific vaccine and the nearest location where available. If it’s more convenient, make an appointment to get vaccinated at EHC in the HOME employee portal. Click here for instructions. See a full schedule of OU vaccine clinics in the FAQs below.
  • Upload external vaccination record to HOME – if you were vaccinated outside EHC: Once you have been vaccinated, please click here for instructions on uploading external vaccination records to the HOME employee health portal. If you require assistance in uploading your records, please inform your manager and help will be provided.
  • Confirm vaccination status in HOME: If you have already been vaccinated and have uploaded an external vaccination record, please confirm your vaccination status by logging in to the HOME employee portal. Your vaccine record is available in “My Medical Information.”

Thank you to the more than 70% of EHC providers and staff who are already fully vaccinated, and all of our care teams who work to improve lives and provide hope each and every day. The move to a COVID-19 vaccination requirement is not unique to EHC. Several health care organizations, universities and employers locally and across the U.S. have announced similar requirements. It is also consistent with expert national guidelines from many of the leading professional organizations (see FAQs below). We will continue to evaluate the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our health care system and community, and may make adjustments to our policies and requirements in the future, as needed.

If you have questions about the new requirement or need information on how to receive the vaccine, reach out to your manager or HR lead.

Thank you for all you do to improve lives and provide hope.

FAQs

EHC Vaccine Requirement Process

Q: Where can I get vaccinated?
A: COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the community. You may get vaccinated at any community location such as your local pharmacy, grocery store or Department of Public Health location. Vaccination is fully covered by Emory insurance and is free of charge for everyone. Click here to search for a specific vaccine and the nearest location where available. If it’s more convenient, make an appointment to get vaccinated at EHC in the HOME employee portal. Click here for instructions. See below for a complete schedule of EHC OU vaccine clinics.

All OU Vaccine sites will be open on the days listed below.
Clinic hours are 7:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 1 – 1:30 p.m.
EJCH Mondays & Wednesdays 6325 Hospital Pkwy, Johns Creek, GA 30097, MOB Suite 202
ESJH Tuesdays & Thursdays 5665 Peachtree-Dunwoody Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30342, 5th Floor South
EUH Tuesdays & Fridays 1364 Clifton Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30322
2nd floor, D wing, Suite D219
EHH Tuesdays & Thursdays 2801 Dekalb Medical Pkwy, Lithonia, GA 30058, Suite 1214
ELTAC Mondays & Fridays 450 North Candler St, Decatur, GA, 30030, Suite 226
EDH Wednesdays & Fridays 2701 N Decatur Rd, Decatur, GA 30033, Suite 1031
EUHM Tuesdays & Thursdays 550 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA, 30308
Orr Bldg. 6th Floor, Suite 06825

Q: What is the deadline to be fully vaccinated?
A: The EHC deadline to have received your COVID-19 vaccines is Oct. 1, 2021 (one dose of J&J or two doses of either Moderna or Pfizer). By this date, all staff and providers should have their vaccination record uploaded to the HOME employee portal or should have received approval for a valid exemption.

Q: Is there an exemption process for opting out of the vaccine? If so, what qualifies as a reason?
A: Yes, EHC staff and providers can apply for a vaccination exemption based on validated medical contraindications or religious beliefs. More information on the exemption process will be shared via email.

Q: What is the timeline to receive each dose of Moderna or Pfizer in order to fulfill the vaccine requirement?
A: If you received Pfizer dose 1, you should schedule dose 2 21 days after dose 1. If you received Moderna dose 1, you should schedule dose 2 28 days after your first dose.

Pfizer 21 days between dose 1 and 2: Dose 1 by September 9, 2021
Moderna 28 days between dose 1 and 2: Dose 1 by September 2, 2021
J&J one dose: Any day up to October 1

Q: What happens if I don’t get vaccinated in time for the deadline?
A: If you do not get vaccinated by the Oct. 1, 2021 deadline and you have not received confirmation of a valid exemption, similar to the flu vaccination requirement, Emory Healthcare will follow our policy regarding employment up to and including termination. Providers who have not been vaccinated or received an approved exemption will have their privileges suspended and eventually terminated.

Q: Is pregnancy a valid exemption for the vaccine?
A: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly recommends all pregnant women who do not have a medical contraindication receive the COVID-19 vaccine. While we strongly recommend all individuals without contraindication receive a COVID vaccination, women who are pregnant may apply for deferral of their COVID vaccination until after the pregnancy.

Q: If a booster vaccine dose is recommended, will we be required to receive the booster, as well?
A: At this time, there is no official recommendation for fully vaccinated individuals to receive a booster. However, research on boosters is currently in motion and there is a possibility that boosters will be recommended for certain COVID-19 vaccines or populations. We will advise on how a booster recommendation impacts our vaccination policy, as well as, when and if boosters are recommended.

Q: I do not work in a patient-facing role, or I work remote, am I still required to be fully vaccinated?
A: Yes, COVID vaccination will now be a condition of employment at EHC, similar to the flu vaccination requirement, for all staff and providers, regardless of role or work location.

Q: I’ve had COVID-19. Do I still need to get vaccinated?
A: Yes, consistent with CDC recommendations, all EHC staff and providers need to be vaccinated or submit a valid exemption, regardless of whether or not they have had COVID-19.

Q: What is the criteria to be considered having received the “COVID-19 vaccination shots?”
A: Receiving COVID-19 vaccination shots means one dose of J&J or two doses of either Moderna or Pfizer.

Q: What do I do if I have difficulty uploading my vaccination record into the HOME portal?
A: If you have difficulty uploading your vaccination record into HOME, you can email a photo or scan of your card to [email protected]org.

Q: If I receive approval for exemption will I need to be tested regularly? If so, how often?  
A: We believe it is important for all members of our team (vaccinated and those who have received an approved exemption) to play a role in supporting the safety of our workplace. Given this, we are developing a testing protocol for members of our team that have received approval for exemption. Specific details are still in progress and will be shared as soon as possible.

Additional vaccine-related questions

Q: Why aren’t we waiting until the vaccines receive full FDA approval?
A: While we initially planned to hold off on requiring COVID-19 vaccination until it received full FDA approval, the substantial increase in COVID-19 infections driven by the Delta variant has led us to reconsider our initial plans. These vaccines have been administered hundreds of millions of times and have already demonstrated an outstanding safety record.

Our decision is based on our commitment to providing the safest environment to care for patients and to protect our staff and providers. It is the right thing to do from a public health perspective, and we know that the majority of our staff and providers are aligned with our decision. Not only does this create a safe environment for our patients but for each of us. Read more in a multi-society statement here: Mandating COVID-19 Vaccination for Health Care Workers | Annals of Internal Medicine (acpjournals.org)

Q: Why hasn’t the FDA provided its final approval of the COVID-19 vaccines yet?
A: Per a recent FDA explanation, “The FDA recognizes that vaccines are key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and is working as quickly as possible to review applications for full approval. Although an (Emergency Use) authorization is not a final FDA approval, the FDA conducted a thorough scientific evaluation of each of the authorized vaccines and can assure the public and medical community that the vaccines meet FDA’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality.”

Q: Will community providers be required to be vaccinated?
A: Consistent with our flu vaccination process, all providers with privileges in Emory Healthcare will be required to be vaccinated unless they have an approved exemption.

Q: Will agency staff, contractors and vendors working in EHC locations be required to be vaccinated as well?
A: Yes. We will be working with leaders across EHC to identify and notify vendors of our requirement.

Q: Will new hires be required to be vaccinated, as well?
A: New hires will be required to complete the vaccination series upon start of employment. New hires will receive an email from HOME to let them know that the consent for vaccination is available. New hires can choose whether to get the vaccine at Emory or a convenient retail location and upload their vaccination record in HOME.

Q: Will there be additional requirements outside of wearing a mask for exempt team members?
A: At this time, we are recommending masking for all providers, staff and care teams per recent CDC guidance that recommends that fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals should wear masks indoors in public in regions of substantial or high transmission, which includes Atlanta and all surrounding counties. Read more in our recent communication.

As noted in a separate FAQ, we are developing a testing protocol for members of our team that have received approval for exemption. Specific details are still in progress and will be shared as soon as possible.

Q: With the uptick in infections caused by the Delta variant, are we planning to delay a return to offices and campus by those who are working remote?
A: At this time, we do not have changes to our current plans. We are reviewing the current situation and will provide additional guidance as soon as possible.

Q: Where can I learn more about the available vaccines?
A: A number of vaccine resources, including videos, are available here.

Q: What should I do if I have more vaccine-specific questions?
A: If you have additional questions, talk to your manager or HR representative.

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