BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System has announced that employees and people working in its hospitals and clinics must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The announcement was made Tuesday.
“Patients in our hospital and clinical settings are vulnerable, very sick and at higher risk for complications,” said Dr. Sarah Nafziger, vice president of clinical support services for UAB Health System. “Unvaccinated health care workers put these patients at greater risk, given that their jobs require close interaction with them and others who are immunocompromised. UAB Medicine’s Medical Executive Committee has determined the appropriate standard of care requires vaccination – it is the best way to provide a safe environment to care for its patients, as they are uniquely susceptible to Covid-19.”
Employees covered by this policy must receive the full complement of vaccine shots by Nov. 12.
Nafziger says COVID-19 has threatened UAB Health System’s ability to provide the services necessary for the care of the people of Alabama.
“Extensive data show vaccines are safe and effective, and we have a responsibility as a healthcare entity to provide a safe environment to protect our patients, employees and community and serve as a leader in the fight against COVID-19,” Nafziger said. “If more people don’t get vaccinated, and hospitalizations continue to increase, we will not be able to care for patients who need us; we’ve already decreased important services.”
An employee may be able to request an exemption if they cannot get vaccinated due to a disability, medical condition or sincerely held religious belief. However, those individuals may be subject to additional safety requirements.
Other physicians in our area like Dr. Celeste Reese Willis believe this was the right move by UAB. She believes they could start a trend for both hospitals and businesses.
“I think there are other hospital systems, as well as business systems that will follow suit. And not to be surprised to see other people follow suit,” Dr. Reese Willis said.
As of now, at least 72% of faculty and staff at UAB are vaccinated. Dr. Reese Willis says some of the patients she has seen have been health care workers who aren’t vaccinated. She says she isn’t surprised by this, but worries that it’s still an issue to some.
“Did I anticipate that we would have this issue? No. Absolutely not. No,” Dr. Reese Willis said.
Employees covered by this policy must receive the full complement of vaccine shots by Nov. 12th.