New UMMC COVID-19 vaccination policy puts patient, workforce and student safety firstPublished on Thursday, July 15, 2021By: Patrice Guilfoyle, firstname.lastname@example.orgIn keeping with its commitment to a safe patient, working and learning environment and in keeping with its roles as a leading health care institution and only academic medical center in the state, the University of Mississippi Medical Center will implement a new COVID-19 vaccination policy that encourages all employees, students and anyone who works or learns in a UMMC facility or clinic to get fully vaccinated.The policy, developed in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Mississippi State Department of Health recommendations, requires anyone who works or learns in a UMMC-controlled space to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with limited exceptions, or wear an N95 mask at all times while at any UMMC facility. Fully vaccinated personnel and students will only be required to wear a mask of their choosing or as determined according to the clinical situation in patient-care areas.Mary Borrello receives her vaccination from Roka in the UMMC vaccine clinic.The policy will go into effect July 26, 2021 and will be phased in over three months, beginning with managers/supervisors, followed by direct-patient-care employees and then all others not covered in the earlier phases. Through this staggered-deadline approach, everyone who works or learns in a UMMC-controlled space should be fully vaccinated or wearing an N95 mask at all times on or by November 1, 2021.Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said UMMC is taking this important and necessary step primarily for the benefit of patients and to do its part in curbing the impact of COVID-19 in the communities it serves.Woodward“We treat the state’s most vulnerable patients, from premature infants to immunocompromised adults, and everyone in between. When we became health care professionals or chose to work or study in a health care environment, we accepted the responsibility to always do what’s in the best interests of our patients. This is one of those times,” she said.Woodward added that UMMC is held to a higher standard as the state’s only academic medical center.“At every turn, our health care heroes have met that standard, and we should be leaders in any public health matter,” she said. “Regardless of virus variants, vaccination is still the best way to keep ourselves and those around us protected.“Research has proven that vaccines are safe and necessary. They are the most effective way to limit spread of the virus and lessen the chance for hospitalization.”Fully vaccinated persons will be eligible to display a sticker on their UMMC-issued ID badge, and as a result, will only be required to wear a mask when in UMMC areas where direct patient care is being administered. In patient-care areas, the UMMC policy for mask use is still in effect and use of a self-selected paper or cloth mask or appropriate mask as determined by the clinical situation is required for fully vaccinated individuals.Anyone who is not vaccinated, either through choice or accommodation, must wear an N95 mask at all times, even in non-patient-care areas, with certain exceptions.Jones“We have an ethical responsibility to protect our patients and visitors from this deadly virus,” said Dr. Alan Jones, associate vice chancellor for clinical affairs and COVID-19 clinical response leader. “As a leading health care institution, we must do all we can to reach near 100% vaccination and hope that more Mississippians are encouraged by our commitment and follow suit.”Once the Food and Drug Administration lifts the emergency use authorization designation from any vaccine that UMMC administers, the option to decline a vaccine other than for certain accommodations will no longer be available. At that time, receiving the COVID-19 vaccination will become a condition of employment or enrollment – similar to the UMMC policy requiring employees and students receive the flu vaccine annually.Frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine can be found here.