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Tuesday, August 16, 2022
NEWS  |  CAMPUS

UF Health mandates vaccines for employees

The mandate is in response to President Biden’s executive order requiring vaccination for federal workers

<p>The UF Health Shands Hospital building in Gainesville, as seen on June 29, 2021, hosts over 1,100 licensed beds and services over 120,000 emergency room visits annually, according to UF Health.</p>

The UF Health Shands Hospital building in Gainesville, as seen on June 29, 2021, hosts over 1,100 licensed beds and services over 120,000 emergency room visits annually, according to UF Health.

UF Health announced Wednesday all its employees must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 or have an approved accommodation on file. 

The mandate comes amid President Biden’s executive order requiring certain federal workers to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, unless exempt for medical or religious reasons. By complying, UF and UF Health collectively receive over $1.6 billion in federal contracts or contract-like agreements, including Medicare/Medicaid funding, UF spokesperson Steve Orlando wrote in an email. 

Fully vaccinated status is achieved two weeks after receiving the last required vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thus, staff must complete their vaccination by Nov. 24.

As federal contractors, UF and UF Health are subject to the federally mandated vaccine order, Orlando wrote.

“UF and UF Health have not mandated vaccines,” Orlando wrote. “UF and UF Health are responding to the federally mandated vaccine order.”

UF and UF Health collectively receive over $1.6 billion in federal contracts or contract-like agreements, including Medicare/Medicaid funding, he wrote. 

The state plans to challenge the mandate. Christina Pushaw, a spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Office, pointed to a Florida law prohibiting government entities or educational institutions from requiring vaccine passports, or documents that show someone was vaccinated.

Johnny Dickerson, a Shands endoscopy technician, has no issue with the mandate, saying staff should respect the rule to help as many people as they can. Everyone in the endoscopy department is vaccinated, but those not yet fully vaccinated should do their part to keep others safe. 

“We can’t help the sick if we’re sick,” Dickerson said. 

Some staff can’t get vaccinated for religious beliefs or health issues, and Dickerson said they have a right to feel that way. But UF Health allows approved religious or medical exemptions, according to its email, and Dickerson said everyone should do the best they can for the greater good.

“If we can all stick together, we can get past this,” Dickerson said. “Hopefully everybody will take heed to the rules and just do the best they can to keep everybody safe.”

Contact J.P. Oprison at joprison@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @JOprison.

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J.P. Oprison

JP is a fourth-year journalism major with a minor in history. He is currently the health reporter for The Alligator, focusing on how the pandemic is affecting Alachua County and the thousands of students in Gainesville. In his free time, JP likes to exercise at the gym and relax on the beach.


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