University of Chicago Medical Center to require COVID-19 vaccination for all employees

A patient is prepared by UChicago Medicine staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

In an effort to ensure the safety of patients and staff, the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) has announced it is requiring all employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

UCMC joins other hospitals across the country that have looked at the data on safety and effectiveness of the available COVID-19 vaccines in determining the mandate, which is consistent with the current vaccination policy that already requires employees be vaccinated against influenza every year.

“Since the start of the pandemic, our organization and its employees have made unrelenting commitments to the greatest healthcare challenge of our lifetimes,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, Dean and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Chicago. “Requiring COVID-19 vaccinations will allow us to continue to do our part in the ongoing efforts to end the pandemic and to protect our patients, their families, our employees and the broader South Side community.”

Details about this policy will be shared with employees in the coming days, including the grace period for compliance with the vaccination requirement and the process for applying for religious or medical exemptions.

Evidence has shown that vaccination is the most effective way to prevent contracting COVID-19 and avoiding severe illness and even death. Of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May 2021, 99.2% of individuals who died were not vaccinated, according to an analysis of government data. Of the 107,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations in that month, 98.9% of the patients were not vaccinated.

“At our Medical Center, 77% of the roughly 10,000-member workforce has been fully vaccinated; we would like to see every eligible individual receive protection against the coronavirus and the more contagious Delta variant,” UCMC President Tom Jackiewicz said. “Thanks to the efforts of our employees, we have been able to uphold our healthcare mission despite the significant challenges posed by the virus. Central to the success of our efforts has been our commitment to creating a safe environment for both patients and staff.”