MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In an email to employees, WVU Medicine officials recently announced that the deadline for the hospital system’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff will be pushed back from October 31, 2021 to January 21, 2022.
When the mandate was first announced in late August, 65% of staff members had already been fully vaccinated, according to officials. That number has since jumped to 95%, WVU Medicine officials said in the email.
Along with the high compliance rate, several other factors played into the decision for the delay.
At the behest of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, the West Virginia legislature recently passed a bill requiring that religious and medical exemptions be made available to employees under vaccine mandates. The governor’s bill does not take effect until January. On Friday, Gov. Justice suggested that employees of any entity with a vaccination mandate deadline prior to January, take the shots.
WVU Medicine was already following federal and state laws that required those exemptions, the email read.
Along with the new state law, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) are expected to soon require vaccinations for all healthcare providers with more than 100 employees, the email said. WVU Medicine officials expect that the new requirements will also include religious and medical exemptions, as well as required testing or monitoring of employees who are not vaccinated under exemptions, they said.
Officials will use the time to clear up conflicts between the federal and state laws and directives, while also seeking clarifications on the new state law that “are unclear or not widely recognized as sound practices by the medical and scientific communities,” the email went on to say.
As the CMS and OSHA regulations come out, WVU Medicine President and CEO Albert Wright, pledged to keep employees informed.