UW Health to require COVID-19 boosters for all providers and staff

MADISON, Wis. — UW Health will require all providers, staff, students, and volunteers to have a COVID-19 booster dose by May 2.

UW Health announced the requirement Wednesday. The hospital instituted a vaccine requirement last year.

RELATED: UW Health joins SSM Health, Prevea and Aurora Health in requiring COVID-19 vaccine for all employees

“Our staff have been incredibly supportive of vaccination efforts in our system,” chief quality officer Dr. Jeff Pothof said in a statement. “They see first-hand how important it is to get a booster as we deal with the omicron surge.”

About 96% of UW Health staff are vaccinated. Staff who do not receive a booster dose by May 2 could face consequences up to and including termination.

Employees can also present a waiver for a medical or religious exemption from the booster dose.

Pothof said the requirement is about protecting patients.

“Although for our vaccinated employees, they did not get particularly ill, they could come to work with an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infection and infect our patients,” he said.

An infection like that can be deadly.

“At UW Health we have very vulnerable patients here,” he said. “Even though those patients are often vaccinated, they can do very poorly if they come down with COVID-19.”

The hospital is also hoping to set an example.

“We know that the act of getting a booster against COVID-19 is what we need to do as an employer who wants to model the way to the community as to what others should do to protect themselves, to protect their families, and to protect their community against COVID-19,” Pothof said.

SSM Health opted not to institute a booster requirement, issuing a statement encouraging everyone to get a booster.

While we strongly encourage everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose, it is not required at this time. We continue to evaluate the situation and will be in touch if there are changes.

UnityPoint Health-Meriter will also stop short of requiring boosters.

While not currently required as part of our COVID-19 Vaccine Policy, UnityPoint Health – Meriter team members are highly encouraged to receive their COVID-19 booster. Our vaccine policy requires all team members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson and Johnson) or have an approved vaccination exemption.

COVID-19 boosters are available to our team members onsite through our employee health department