Message from the President: Preparing for COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Dear faculty, staff, students and residents:

With the holidays upon us, an uptick in the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the past week, and the recent developments of yet another COVID-19 variant (Omicron), we encourage every employee and student to get a COVID-10 vaccine. For the approximately 90% of those of you who have been vaccinated, we also encourage all those eligible (everyone 18+) to get the booster vaccine, which can be scheduled conveniently and given here on campus at Wellness 360 or at our Medical Arts and Research Center (MARC).

We also ask that you serve as an advocate to family and friends in helping to explain that vaccines are safe and effective. Based in science and research, vaccines have proven to be the best means of preventing significant illness, hospitalization and death from the virus.

Our university is currently vetting state and federal rules regarding vaccine requirements and how they may or may not apply to our organization. University of Texas institutions have been subject to conflicting state and federal rules regarding vaccine requirements, and we will continue to navigate the conflicts carefully and pursuant to our understanding of controlling law. This is a dynamic situation as some of the rules have been challenged in courts and, as a result of recent decisions, guidance continues to change.

UT Health San Antonio will take appropriate steps to ensure our institution complies with this guidance and the final recommendations. Communication to include specific details on the federal guidelines, what areas within our organization the vaccine mandate may not impact, and/or those specifically who may not be impacted will be coming in the next several days.

For our faculty, staff and students working within facilities of various health systems in the region, each system will have their own vaccine mandate policies and procedures. To practice in these facilities, individuals must comply with their regulations, which go into effect in early January 2022.

Under review currently for UT Health San Antonio is the narrower vaccination requirements based on the Federal-Contractor Rule. This rule applies to institutions that have signed a specific type of federal contract that now has a vaccine requirement. UT Health San Antonio has federal contracts that require covered employees to become fully vaccinated by Jan. 18, 2022, unless they qualify for medical or religious exemptions. These institutions must also implement workplace safety protocols to further reduce transmission of the virus.

We will navigate through the current environment – federal mandates to new variants – with our highest priority always on safety. Over the past 18 months and throughout the pandemic, our organization has responded to the call of service demonstrating we will do everything it takes to make lives better for our faculty, staff, students and the communities we serve.

Thank you for all that YOU do every day to make a safer and healthier community.

William L. Henrich, MD, MACP
President and Professor of Medicine

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