Vanderbilt mandates full vaccinations for all staff by September 30

REGIONAL HEALTH NEWS — Last Tuesday, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) announced via press release that, “all VUMC employees will be required to be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption from this requirement by no later than Thursday, September 30, 2021, as a condition of employment.”

The Times confirmed that this included all employees and staff at nearby Vanderbilt Tullahoma and Vanderbilt Bedford County in Shelbyville. This employee mandate follows a similar mandate VUMC issued in July that required employees with leadership roles to be fully vaccinated by no later than September 15.”

“We are now seeing significantly accelerating cases and hospitalizations not only among patients but also in our workforce,” the press release stated. “To comply with this requirement through VUMC, which administers the 2-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, employees should register to receive their first dose of vaccine by no later Sept. 1, 2021.”

Individuals and groups included in VUMC’s COVID vaccine requirements include all paid and unpaid persons working at VUMC as well as an visiting team members. This includes staff, faculty, fellows, house staff, medical providers with privileges at VUMC, students of VUMC’s Allied Health programs, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN) and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) students, Vanderbilt University employees and students working in VUMC buildings, and VUMC volunteers.

VUMC issued the mandate just prior to a spike in COVID-related hospitalization in Tennessee. According to the August 18 numbers from the Tennessee Department of Health, there are currently 2,449 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. On Thursday, a frustrated Sumner Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Geoff Lifferth took to his social media account to warn that there are no available hospital beds in Middle Tennessee right now.

“In Middle Tennessee right now it is impossible to find an empty, staffed ICU, ER, or med/surg bed. As an ER doc and a healthcare administrator, this past week has been one of the most exhausting and disheartening of my career,” he said on Facebook.

“There’s been a lot of talk about personal freedoms, and mandates, and government overreach, and such. And, someday when the sun is shining again, we can sit down and have some interesting conversations about all that. I might even agree with you on some of those points,” he continued. “But I can’t do that today. Not today. Because there are no beds.”

This included Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville who confirmed that they’d been forced to decline some patient transfers because its emergency room and adult hospital was “completely full,” according to spokesman John Howser. •

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