COVID-19 vaccine mandate guidance for Health Sciences Community
January 2022 — West Virginia University and WVU Medicine faculty, staff and students located on the Health Sciences campuses may be affected by federal vaccine mandates.
- Medicare and Medicaid Providers – In January, the Supreme Court upheld a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for an estimated 20 million healthcare workers. As a result of the decision, in order to continue participating in Medicare and Medicaid services and based on CMS regulations – and consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on infection prevention – WVU Health System is requiring that all healthcare workers get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and show proof of an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccination, unless a medical or religious exemption has been granted as an accommodation. The deadline for healthcare workers at WVU Medicine facilities located in Pennsylvania and Maryland to be fully vaccinated (or have received a medical or religious exemption) is Feb. 28, 2022. The deadline for healthcare workers at WVU Medicine facilities located in West Virginia and Ohio to be fully vaccinated (or have received a medical or religious exemption) is Tuesday, March 15, 2022. This requirement applies to all employees, physicians, licensed independent practitioners, residents, volunteers, students, trainees, contractors and vendors across the WVU Health System. Please consult with your supervisor, dean or program director for information specific to your situation. You may contact Health Sciences Incident Command with general questions about the WVU Medicine vaccine mandate at HSIC@hsc.wvu.edu.
- Federal Contractors – Because of its contractual obligations with the federal government, WVU and WVU Research Corp. must comply with the executive order signed by President Biden mandating the implementation of several COVID-19 safety protocols for federal contractors. Additional details were provided by the White House on Nov. 4 regarding the vaccination policies outlined in the executive order, which requires certain faculty, staff and students get vaccinated for COVID-19. Full-time or part-time employees working on or in connection with an applicable federal contract are included in this mandate. WVU employees identified as subject to the federal mandate will be contacted via email by the Division of Talent and Culture with more information and instructions. If you have questions about the Federal Contractor mandate, please contact your HR Partner. If you need assistance confirming your vaccination status or submitting an exemption form, contact WVU Shared Services at 304-293-6006 or SharedServices@mail.wvu.edu.
Some Health Sciences faculty, staff and students will be required to report their vaccine status or request an exemption for both WVU and WVUM based on their current working environment and funding.
Students who are working or serving in clinical areas or on clinical rotations
Students serving in clinical areas or on clinical rotations must follow the COVID-19 vaccination mandates issued by healthcare organizations where these activities occur. Medical and religious exemptions for Health Sciences students will be handled by the University.
If a student applies for an exemption of any type, and the program director does not receive a result (exempted or not), whether due to delays or any other factor, the student will be expected to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated in order to participate in the rotation site experience as originally scheduled. The student should upload verification of exemption status into the system used by their individual program for verifying vaccine status. Please note that some clinical rotation sites may not accept exemptions of any kind. Students should consult with their individual programs. In these instances, students have the personal choice to take a leave of absence from their program, but those situations need prospective planning with the program director.
- Religious exemptions for students: These requests will be reviewed by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Clinical students who need to request a religious exemption must complete the Affidavit for Religious Exemption from COVID-19 Immunization Mandate Form.
- Medical exemptions for students: Medical-related exemption requests for students should go through the Office of Accessibility Services, similar to any other medical accommodation request that students would have. Questions can be directed to 304-293-6700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Employees and students working on or in connection with federal contracts
If you are working on or in connection with WVU or WVU Research Corp. federal contracts, you will be required to complete the vaccine verification or exemption process as outlined in the Nov. 16 Mountaineer E-news announcement and distributed via direct email. Because the University is required to monitor and may be asked to prove compliance, you will be required to complete this process even if you have previously registered with WVU or WVU Medicine. This will be an ongoing process as new federal contracts are amended and/or received by the organization.
Those who request a medical exemption must download a copy of the Immunization Exemption Based on a Medical Condition form when verifying their vaccination status and have a medical provider complete the medical certification portion of the form. Those who request a religious exemption must download a copy of the Affidavit for Religious Exemption from COVID-19 Immunization Mandate form when verifying their vaccination status. Those who previously received a medical or religious exemption will retain that status.
Compliance requirements with these federal mandates are evolving and, as new guidance is issued, the HSC Community will be updated accordingly.
Guidance for WVU Health Sciences faculty, staff and students working in patient care environments
On August 23 the Food and Drug Administration issued full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and a statement was issued by the West Virginia Hospital Association supporting hospitals and health systems requiring COVID-19 vaccination of their employees. Given the nature of these announcements, it is anticipated that many healthcare organizations will require the COVID-19 vaccine.
While West Virginia University is not requiring COVID-19 vaccination at this time, all students, residents, faculty and staff practicing, working or serving on clinical rotations will need to follow COVID-19 vaccination mandates issued by healthcare organizations where these activities occur. Failure to comply with vaccination mandates could result in the loss of clinical privileges or the ability to complete the necessary clinical experiences required as a student.
WVU Health System’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements
On August 23, the West Virginia University Health System announced that it will require all employees, physicians, licensed independent practitioners, residents, volunteers, students and contracted workers and vendors caring for patients, providing related services or entering/spending time (other than patients or visitors) on any of WVUHS’s premises to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 31, 2021. To be considered fully vaccinated, individuals must have received either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson. Booster shots are strongly encouraged but not a requirement at this time.
Following federal and state guideline changes, vaccine mandate deadline has been extended:
- Feb. 28, 2022: For healthcare workers at WVU Medicine facilities located in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
- March 15, 2022: For healthcare workers at WVU Medicine facilities located in West Virginia and Ohio.
Individuals covered by this policy who seek an exemption (on medical, disability or religious grounds) must complete the Medical Exemption request form or the Religious Exemption request form and submit them to the appropriate hospital’s employee health department.
Employees must notify their supervisor. Students must notify their respective program director or student services dean if an exemption is granted and must complete daily attestations and be COVID-19 tested twice each week at their own expense. If an exemption is denied, non-compliance by employees may result in loss of work status. Students should appreciate the significant limitations regarding their education relating to non-compliance of a clinical site’s vaccination policy and consult with their program director or student services dean.
If a student applies for an exemption of any type, and the program director does not receive a result (exempted or not), whether due to delays, or any factor, the student will be expected to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated in order to participate in the rotation site experience as originally scheduled. A student always has the personal choice option to take a leave of absence from their program, but those situations obviously need prospective planning with the program director.
Note: The WVU Health System COVID-19 vaccination program policy is accessible via Connect.
Other healthcare organizations’ COVID-19 vaccination requirements
Those on the Charleston Campus involved in patient care, including faculty, staff, residents, fellows and students, will be required to follow COVID-19 guidance issued by the Charleston Area Medical Center and/or other healthcare organizations where clinical work or clinical rotations are being completed. Please contact the Charleston Campus dean’s office with any questions.
Other healthcare organizations may have different vaccination requirements and deadlines. To ensure that your clinical practice and/or education is not interrupted, please be sure to familiarize yourself with your respective healthcare organization policies regarding COVID-19.
If one would like to apply for an exemption with other rotation sites not affiliated with the WVU Health System, that process must be completed (meaning a final decision regarding the exemption has been made) individually with the respective site with documentation of such communicated to your program director via email one week prior to the beginning of the rotation experience – or any experience throughout our curriculum. This will need to be completed for every single scheduled rotation site that is not WVU Health System-affiliated.
Where to get the vaccines
Vaccines are available through WVU Medicine Student Health, through the Monongalia County Health Department or at various locations around the state. Please consult with your regional campuses for additional locations.
How to verify your vaccine status with WVU Health Sciences
- WVU Health Sciences Students
- To verify your vaccine status, please work directly with your individual school or program.
- WVU Clinical Faculty
- WVUHS Staff Working at Health Sciences
Dr. Meera Mehta, WVU Medicine infectious diseases pharmacy specialist, answers commonly asked questions about the vaccine in this video.
For general information about COVID-19, including vaccination, testing, and what to do if you test positive for COVID-19, visit WVUMedicine.org/COVID, WVU’s Return to Campus website or coronavirus.wvu.edu.
Questions can be directed to Health Sciences Incident Command at HSIC@hsc.wvu.edu.