COVID 19 Vaccination Policy Interim
- Responsible Office: Office of the Provost; Division of Administration, Division of Administration
- Current Approved Version: 09/20/2021
- Policy Type: Administrative
Policy Statement and Purpose
Consistent with its efforts to promote a safe and healthy workplace, VCU adopts this policy as an appropriate safety measure to promote the health and well-being of its employees and the students, patients and others who spend time in our buildings, use our facilities and engage in our community. This policy aligns with VCU Health System’s vaccination policy and is based upon guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities and experts.
Noncompliance with this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. VCU supports an environment free from retaliation. Retaliation against any employee who brings forth a good faith concern, asks a clarifying question, or participates in an investigation is prohibited.
Table of Contents
|Who Should Know This Policy|
|Policy Specifics and Procedures|
All university faculty and staff are responsible for knowing this policy and familiarizing themselves with its contents and provisions. Students, graduate assistants, post-doctoral candidates are not covered by this policy and should refer to VCU’s student rules and protocols regarding Covid-19 vaccination requirements.
Fully vaccinated. An employee who has received the final dose of an authorized Covid-19 vaccination series two or more weeks earlier and presented related documentation to VCU.
The Office of the Provost and the Division of Administration officially interpret this policy. The Office of the Provost and the Division of Administration are jointly responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures through the appropriate governance structures. Please direct policy questions to the Office of the Provost, Sr. Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, and the Division of Administration, AVP for Human Resources.
By October 1, 2021 and as a condition of employment, VCU requires that all employees be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus, or, if applicable, request and receive a medical and/or religious exemption. Employees must upload their vaccination record to VCU’s secure portal. Employees may request a medical or religious exemption through the portal. Employees who are not fully vaccinated on October 1, 2021 but who have completed at least one dose of an authorized two-dose vaccine will be subject to routine testing, daily health checks, and other protective measures at the university’s direction until fully vaccinated.
An authorized vaccine includes any vaccine authorized for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (including, but not limited to those granted an Emergency Use Authorization) and any vaccine authorized for use by the World Health Organization (including, but not limited to those granted an Emergency Use License). This policy may also require a recommended ‘booster’ or supplemental dose of an approved vaccine depending upon future public health guidance.
Employees are responsible for scheduling and obtaining the Covid-19 vaccine injection(s) and any required boosters. Employees may use work time to obtain the vaccine (up to 8 hours) during regularly scheduled work hours contingent upon supervisor approval. Supervisor approval is required to coordinate scheduling and minimize business interruptions.
Requests for Exemptions
Medical exemptions will be permitted based on medical information provided by the employee and the employee’s health care provider. Medical exemption requests should be submitted through the secure portal and will be reviewed and approved/denied only by the Office of Employee Health Services (EHS).
Religious exemptions will be permitted based on an employee’s sincerely held theistic and/or non-theistic beliefs, practices or observances. Religious exemption requests will be reviewed and approved/denied by the Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success (IES).
Employees whose exemption requests are approved will be notified by EHS for medical exemptions and by IES for religious exemptions. Employees who receive an exemption are required to continue to complete the VCU Daily Health Check online, are required to engage in VCU’s Covid-19 surveillance testing performed on campus as directed by the university, and may be required to present their Entry Pass when entering any of VCU’s buildings or facilities.
Employees who are denied a request for a medical or religious exemption by the university and who believe the denial of an exemption request was unreasonable may file a complaint with the Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success (IES) or with the Integrity and Compliance Office. Employees whose exemption requests have been denied will be advised of these and other resources by the VCU HR Office of Employee Relations. The University’s Preventing and Responding to Discrimination Policy provides information on how to file a complaint with IES.
Any employee who does not comply with the terms of this policy may be subject to termination from their employment at VCU.
Employees may grieve their termination following the appropriate grievance procedure.
Government and public health guidelines and restrictions and industry best practices regarding Covid-19 and Covid-19 vaccines are changing rapidly as new information becomes available, further research is conducted and additional vaccines are approved and distributed. VCU reserves the right to modify this policy at any time in its sole discretion to adapt to changing circumstances and mission needs, consistent with its commitment to promoting a safe and healthy workplace.
Exemption request forms are available through an employee’s secure portal.
Current CDC guidance regarding the vaccines that are authorized for use in the United States is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/index.html.
Guidance regarding myths and facts related to the COVID-19 vaccines is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html.
Preventing and Responding to Discrimination Policy:https://policy.vcu.edu/universitywide-policies/policies/preventing-and-responding-to-discrimination.html
9/20/2021 New Policy
Q: Where can I get vaccinated?
A: VCU continues to offer a number of on-campus vaccination opportunities by appointment. Employees can contact VCU Employee Health at (804) 828-0584 to schedule an appointment. If you are not close to campus and need to search for a vaccination opportunity near you, visit vaccinefinder.org.
Q: What if I don’t comply with VCU’s vaccine requirement or obtain an exemption?
A: If you are receiving a vaccine that requires two shots, your first shot must be reported via the vaccine survey by September 15, 2021 as “vaccination in progress.” All employees must have a fully completed vaccination, vaccination in progress or approved exemption on file with VCU by October 1, 2021 or they will be subject to termination. Employees with a vaccination in progress on October 1, 2021 must have received their second dose and upload supporting documentation no later than October 15, 2021 or be subject to termination. Until you are fully vaccinated, you will be required to receive Covid testing as directed by the university, to complete your daily health check, and to comply with all other public health measures. You may report to work as usual during this time.
Q: Will time off be covered if I experience side effects for a day or two and can’t come to work?
A: Yes, up to eight hours of Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) may be used by any employee who experiences side effects from the vaccines and does not feel well enough to come to work. If an employee has exhausted their PHEL, the employee may use personal leave. Please discuss your leave options and balances with your HR Professional.
Q: Do I have to be vaccinated if I work 100% remotely?
A: Yes. The requirement to be vaccinated or submit an exemption is applicable to all employees regardless of remote work status. Employees with an approved medical or religious exemption and approved for 100% remote work that does not interface with the public, faculty, staff or students, will be required to attest that they will not be coming on campus; they will then be removed from the testing schedule. If the employee is required to return to on-campus work, then they must comply with all testing requirements.
Q: Does this requirement apply to those who work outside of the United States?
A: No. Compliance with this requirement is not a condition of employment for VCU employees who work outside of the United States.
Q:How long will medical and religious exemptions take to approve? Will I be subject to disciplinary action while my exemption is under review?
A: Exemptions will be reviewed as quickly as possible. Employees with exemptions under review will not be subject to disciplinary action but will be required to complete daily health checks, participate in the university’s Covid-19 surveillance testing and comply with all of the university’s other public health measures. You may report to work as usual while your exemption is under review.
Q: If I am a VCU employee and I receive a medical or religious exemption from VCU but I work in a VCUHealth patient care or clinic setting, will I still need to comply with VCUHealth’s requirement that I receive the vaccine?
A. VCUHealth will honor the exemptions provided to VCU employees for medical or religious reasons.
Q: What if I am dually employed by the university and the health system?
A: If you are dually employed through both the university and the health system, or if you are a university employee working in health system facilities, you must follow VCU Health System vaccination requirements for employees, which requires vaccination documentation or an approved exemption. Dually employed employees must report vaccine documentation or submit an exemption request to both the university and VCU Health System.
Q: If I request a medical exemption, who will have access to my personal health information?
A: Employee Health Services will review medical exemption requests and are the only ones who will have access to personal health information.