Michigan Medicine Required COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

July 30, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Announcements

Updated as of Tuesday, September 21 at 4 p.m.

These FAQs will continue to be updated as needed. Please check back frequently for more information. Please work with your supervisor or Human Resources representative if you have further questions.

The University of Michigan has provided a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions (FAQ), many of which also apply to Michigan Medicine. Please review these FAQs for additional information about the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination process.

FAQs specific to vaccine safety and efficacy are available here.

Below are additional Michigan Medicine FAQs related to the required COVID-19 vaccinations:

The FAQs are broken down by category. Click on the category name to jump to that section:

About the Requirement

Q: Who is required to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
A: All students, faculty, and staff on the three U-M campuses, including Michigan Medicine must have submitted their vaccination information to the university no later than Aug. 30, requested an exemption or received their first shot. This includes remote employees. For all staff covered by a collective bargaining agreement, the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement shall apply.

To report that you have received all doses of a vaccine series, submit information via the COVID-19 Vaccination Completed form.  
To report that you have received one dose of a two-dose vaccine series, submit information via the Partial COVID-19 Vaccination form. Remember, you must submit your second dose information once you complete your vaccine series.

Those individuals who request and are approved for a medical or religious exemption will be required to complete mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing and continue to mask while on campus.

Q: If we got the COVID vaccine through U-M is that considered ‘verified’ already or is there additional registration we need to do to ‘show proof’ of vaccine at U-M?
A: Regardless of where you received your vaccination, all employees must self-report their vaccination information through Wolverine Access.  

Q: Is the mandatory vaccination required by Michigan Medicine vendors and contractors?  If so, what proof will be required before they’re allowed on-site?
A: Yes, this policy applies to all vendors and contractors.  Each vendor will be responsible for ensuring compliance with this new policy, even including the weekly testing for non-vaccinated workers.

Q: If my exemption was approved is weekly testing required still?
A: Yes, those with approved medical or religious exemptions are required to be weekly tested. If you are fully remote and do not come to a Michigan Medicine/ U-M facility at any time during the week, you will not have to participate in weekly testing.  If you will be onsite for any reason during the week, you must be tested upon arrival.

Q: Am I considered compliant with the policy if I have received two doses of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but it has been less than 2 weeks since my last dose?
A: No, you are not considered compliant with the policy until two weeks after receiving your last dose of the vaccine or have an approved exemption. If you are in this two week period you are not considered fully vaccinated and must undergo weekly testing until the two weeks is complete. You will not be subject to discipline during this two week period unless you fail to participate in weekly testing.

Q: Will I be disciplined on August 31 if I do not have both doses of the vaccine?
A: No, as long as you have submitted your partial vaccination documentation to Wolverine Access and undergo weekly testing until considered fully vaccinated.

Q: Do I have to be weekly tested if I am considered a remote worker?
A: If you are fully remote and do not come to a Michigan Medicine/ U-M facility at any time during the week, you will not have to participate in weekly testing.  If you will be onsite for any reason during the week, you must be tested upon arrival.

Q: Does this requirement include temporary employees, contractors, and volunteers?
A: Yes, temporary employees, contractors and volunteers must be vaccinated.

Q: What does fully vaccinated mean?
A: To be considered fully vaccinated you must be at least two weeks post completion of two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Q: Is the mandatory vaccine requirement for workforce members that work remote or in non-clinical buildings?
A: Yes, all workforce members are required to be vaccinated or have an approved exemption, regardless of work location.

Q: Do new workforce members have to be fully vaccinated before they start work at Michigan Medicine?
A: All new hires will have two days from their start date to submit documentation via Wolverine Access of their partial or full vaccination, or to submit a religious or medical exemption request. They will submit vaccine documentation and exemption requests through the same Wolverine Access process as current staff.

Q: What is the deadline to submit my vaccination information?
A: All students, faculty, and staff on the three U-M campuses, including Michigan Medicine must have submitted their vaccination information to the university no later than Aug. 30, requested an exemption or received their first shot. This includes remote employees.

Q: If I submit documentation of my partial dose (for those vaccines with two doses) by Aug. 30, will I be considered compliant with the new requirements? Do I have to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 30?
A: If you have only received one dose by Aug. 30, to be compliant with the Michigan Medicine policy, you will need to complete weekly COVID-19 testing until you are fully vaccinated. You will need to submit documentation after you complete the series.

Q: If on a leave of absence, am I expected to be fully vaccinated when I return to work?
A: Employees must have received their first dose, and completed the partial vaccination report, upon returning to work. They will be subject to weekly testing until they are considered fully vaccinated and submit documentation as such.

How to get the vaccine

Q: Where can I go to receive a COVID-19 vaccination?
A: Several vaccination clinics are available at Michigan Medicine facilities such as at Occupational Health Services (OHS), your medical provider or community resources such as local pharmacies. Visit the OHS website for a list of clinic dates and times.

Exemptions

Q: How does an employment applicant apply for religious or medical exemption?
A: Newly hired employees will have two days from their start date to submit a religious or medical exemption request. They will submit exemptions requests through the same Wolverine Access process as current staff.

Q: What happens to the people who have submitted exemption forms but have not received a response by Aug. 30?
A: Those who are still waiting on a response to their exemption request will be required to begin weekly testing until their request is either approved or denied. They are considered compliant with the policy until a decision is rendered. If denied, the employee has seven (7) days from the denial email to begin the vaccination process and submit documentation of partial dose for vaccines with a two-dose series, or complete vaccination in a one dose vaccine series (Johnson & Johnson).

Q: When will I hear back on whether my exemption/postponement request was accepted or denied?
A: The exemption team is reviewing submissions as quickly as possible. Beginning Aug. 18, individuals who have submitted an exemption/postponement request will begin to hear about their status based on the order they were submitted (typically two weeks from submission date). Please continue to check your email for an update on the status of your request.

Q: How do I request an exemption for religious or medical purposes?
A: Faculty, staff and learners seeking a medical or religious exemption to the U-M COVID-19 vaccine requirement may submit a request through Wolverine Access by Aug. 30.

The university is providing limited exemptions for medical or religious reasons. An online request form asks, among other questions, that respondents attest that the information they are providing is true and accurate.

U-M community members can also apply for a temporary postponement (formerly known as a deferral) if they are unable to obtain a vaccine recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization in their hometown or country of origin. Those requesting a temporary postponement agree to immediately schedule a COVID-19 vaccination upon arrival to campus.

More information is available in this Headlines article.

Q: Can I submit an exemption form after the August 30 deadline?
A: No, current employees must submit an exemption form by Aug. 30. New employees will work with Occupational Health Services during their new employee health assessment to ensure compliance with the COVID vaccination policy. 

Q: If I am exempt from the flu vaccine, will I also be exempt from the COVID vaccine?
A: No, exemption requests for influenza and COVID vaccines will be submitted separately and reviewed independently. Medical exemption criteria are different for influenza vaccine and COVID vaccine.

Q: Can I be exempted from the mandate if I’m pregnant?
A: Pregnant women are more likely to become severely ill if they are infected with COVID-19.  Getting a COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy can protect you from severe disease.  Severe illness includes illness that requires hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator or special equipment to breathe, or illness that results in death. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes compared with pregnant women without COVID-19. If you are pregnant and have concerns about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, you should discuss getting the COVID vaccine with your healthcare provider. You may request a medical exemption to defer the vaccine during your pregnancy.

Q: What are the examples of medical exemptions?
A: Examples include, but not are limited to:

  • A documented history of a severe allergic reaction to any component of a COVID-19 vaccine or to a substance that is cross-reactive with a component. 
  • A documented history of a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • Documented history of myocarditis after first dose of mRNA vaccine
  • Previous history of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome secondary to COVID infection

About the vaccines

Q: If I had COVID-19 and still have antibodies, am I required to be vaccinated?
A: Yes, regardless of if you had COVID-19 all workforce members are required to be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption.

Q: If I am getting the Covid vaccine, will I also have to get the flu vaccine? If so, could I get sick by having the two vaccines just days apart from one another?
A: An annual influenza vaccine continues to be required for all Michigan Medicine workforce members. COVID-19 vaccines can safely be given at the same time as influenza or other vaccines, but if you are concerned you can assure you have space between vaccines by getting vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Annual influenza vaccination is required by December 1.

Q: Will the COVID vaccine become like the flu vaccine, where it is required annually?
A: There are currently no COVID-19 vaccination boosters. Decisions regarding boosters will follow CDC guidance.

Q: Why are we are not waiting to enforce a mandate, like some other health systems are doing, until the FDA formally approves vaccines and no longer labels them as being for emergency use?
A: A highly vaccinated workforce provides the safest environment for workforce members and patients.  The circumstances of the pandemic with increasing COVID cases and development of more transmissible variants means there is urgency in vaccinating all who are eligible in order to prevent further COVID infections that may be associated with severe disease or hospitalization.  There is robust safety and efficacy data that has informed the emergency use authorization and hundreds of millions have received COVID vaccines since the FDA emergency use authorizations were issued. 

Q: Do the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines have preservatives? What are the ingredients?
A: No, all are preservative free. Information about each vaccine, including its ingredients are available on the FAQS About COVID-19 Vaccines page.

Q: Should someone with a current SARS-CoV-2 infection be vaccinated?
A: Individuals may be vaccinated as soon as 10 days after their COVID-19 diagnosis, if their clinical symptoms have resolved.

Q: I hear a lot about side effects and am worried that the vaccine is not safe. What evidence is there that the vaccine is safe for everyone?
A: COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19 especially severe illness and death. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history. Most vaccine reactions are mild and temporary. There are very rare instances of more serious events but the benefits of preventing hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths with vaccination continue to outweigh risks. Workforce members may request a medical exemption for circumstances such as severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine components.

Serious adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.

  • Anaphylaxis after COVID-19 vaccination is rare and has occurred in approximately 2 to 5 people per million vaccinated in the United States. Severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, can occur after any vaccination. If this occurs, vaccination providers can effectively and immediately treat the reaction
  • Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after JJ&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccination is rare. About 7 of every 1 million women between the ages of 18 and 49 who have received this vaccine have experienced blood clots.  For women who are 50 years or old, and men of all ages, they are even more rare. 
  • Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) after J&J/Janssen vaccine is rare. There have been approximately 100 cases reported among approximately 13 million vaccine recipients. GBS is a rare disorder where the body’s immune system damages nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. Most people fully recover from GBS, but some have permanent nerve damage. These cases have largely been reported about 2 weeks after vaccination and mostly in men, many 50 years and older.
  • Myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. CDC has confirmed 699 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination among hundreds of millions of doses administered.  Most cases have been reported after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), particularly in male adolescents and young adults and are more common after the second vaccine dose.

Additional information is available on the FAQS About COVID-19 Vaccines page.

Q: Now that there is a vaccine mandate, will masks no longer need to be worn? What date would that take effect? 
A: It is likely that masks will be worn for the delivery of healthcare for an extended period. Whether this changes depends on a number of things such as circulation of COVID in the community, local and state public health recommendations, and regulatory rules such as MIOSHA/OSHA.  These things are monitored closely and when appropriate, masking will be optional for fully vaccinated individuals in certain areas.

Additional Questions

Q: Does the Aug. 30 deadline also apply to staff on a leave of absence?
A: Staff who are on a leave of absence will need to report their vaccination status or submit for an exemption request within two days of returning to work.

Q: How do I find the CSTP website for registering and obtaining a test?
A: The Community Sampling and Testing Program (CSTP) information is available at this link: https://campusblueprint.umich.edu/prevention-testing-care/testing/sampling-tracking-program/ and by going to the Campus BluePrint website.

Q: If you work offsite, like Brighton, do you still have to go to the hospital to be tested? Is testing included as part of your work day or are you expected to go on your own time?
A: Weekly testing sites are an ongoing discussion with our partners in the Community Sampling and Testing Program (CSTP), and more information will be shared as new details become available.

Q: Is Michigan Medicine following the same discipline plan as Campus?
A: No, Michigan Medicine will utilize a progressive discipline process which begins with education and coaching regarding the policy and vaccines. This is the same disciplinary process used for the influenza vaccine.

Q: Will COVID testing be readily available to fully vaccinated staff as well?
A: Yes, any asymptomatic employee may use the Community Sampling and Testing Program for COVID-19 testing. Employees must schedule their weekly appointment with the program directly. Scheduling information is available at this link: https://campusblueprint.umich.edu/prevention-testing-care/testing/sampling-tracking-program/ and by going to the Campus BluePrint website.

Q: When will HealthRX  be updated with my vaccination status? My ResonsiBLUE app is updated, but HealthRX is not.
A: It can take 1-3 days from the time your vaccination status is verified for the information to appear in HealthRx. If you are concerned with meeting the August 30 compliance date, you can show proof that you submitted your information by showing your manager your confirmation email. Or, if your ResponsiBLUE app is updated, that may be used, too.

Q: If I get the vaccine at OHS, how will MM take responsibility if I were to develop a reaction/complication? Would this result in a workers compensation claim? A: Medical complications related to COVID-19, including the vaccine, will continue to be reviewed by Work Connection to determine workers compensation eligibility.

Q: If I have an adverse reaction to the vaccine, will I be able to use the COVID-19 PTO? Will a new time off bank be available?
A: If you experience serious illness resulting in lost work time as a result of any administered vaccine could be covered by your eligible paid time off programs which could include: PTO or vacation/sick, COVID-19 PTO or extended sick pay. PTO or vacation/sick time must be used first, followed by COVID-19 PTO (if available and eligible). Employees would follow our normal HR and Work Connections process. No additional time off banks will be added.

Q: Is the University/Michigan Medicine liable if I have an adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: No, the university is not liable. U-M came to its decision after closely studying the law, science, public health and ethics. We are confident we made the right choice for the safety of the U-M community. It is lawful for U-M to require the COVID-19 vaccination of our faculty, staff and students and the EUA status of the vaccines does not diminish an institution’s authority or reasonableness in doing so. More than a century ago, the U.S. Supreme Court established the right of public institutions to protect the health of others by requiring vaccinations and, as recently as last month, courts have continued to support the legal premise that institutions of higher education may require vaccinations in pursuing the legitimate aim of public health. As a public research institution, the University of Michigan is dedicated to science and the advancement of truth. Tens of thousands of individuals in the State of Michigan have died as a result of COVID-19 and more than a million Michiganders have contracted COVID-19. The vaccinations are extraordinarily effective — in clinical trials and in real world conditions. The science and data on vaccines, particularly the COVID-19 vaccine, is clear: it saves lives and reduces the severity of illness.

Q: What is the timeframe for which we should expect to see our vaccination status updated in HealthRx? 
A:  It takes 3-7 business days to validate a completed COVID-19 vaccination status through Wolverine Access. Health Rx will update 1-3 business days after the employee’s completed COVID-19 vaccination status has been validated.    

Q: How will managers know if their staff member has an approved medical or religious exemption? Will managers be receiving reports or will they have to manage through HealthRx?
A: Similar to flu vaccination reports, this information will be available in HealthRx.

Q: What if I cannot find my vaccination card to attach as documentation of receiving the vaccine?
A: Those who received their vaccination through a Michigan Medicine clinic and/or provider can pull their COVID-19 vaccination report from the MyChart patient portal. Instructions are available here.

Q: Are employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement required to be vaccinated?
A: The university is actively discussing vaccine requirements with each of the unions representing staff on the U-M campus and Michigan Medicine whose agreements require those discussions.  We are hopeful that an agreement can be reached in support of vaccination for these groups.  

Q: Are managers/supervisors giving employees time during their shifts to go get vaccinated, or do they have to go on personal time?
A: Managers and supervisors are encouraged to be flexible and accommodating to employees when it comes to scheduling their vaccine appointments. However, this may vary from unit to unit due to clinical and staffing needs. There may be situations where it would be best for employees to schedule their vaccination before or after their shifts or during their breaks.

Q: How do I submit my vaccination information (partial or complete)?
A: To report that you have received all doses of a vaccine series, submit information via the COVID-19 Vaccination Completed form.
To report that you have received one dose of a two-dose vaccine series, submit information via the Partial COVID-19 Vaccination form.

Contact the Campus COVID-19 Call Center if you need assistance submitting your information. The Call Center can be reached at 734-936-7000, Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Q: What happens if I do not comply?
A: Workforce members who are not fully vaccinated and have not submitted an exemption request by August 30, will be considered non-compliant with the required vaccination policy. You will be expected to begin your vaccination process and conduct weekly COVID-19 testing until fully vaccinated. A vaccination deadline will be established and non-vaccinated employees will follow the discipline or other process applicable to persons in their classification of employment.

Q: Can I report to work if I have only received one of two doses?
A: Yes. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated by August 30 are required to complete weekly COVID-19 testing until they are fully vaccinated. The CDC and U-M consider individuals fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine.

Q: How can I submit questions?
A: The Required COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs are being updated regularly, so check these first. If your question is still not answered, we established the covid-vaccine@med.umich.edu email to enable Michigan Medicine employees to submit questions and concerns they have about the required COVID-19 vaccination. We appreciate everyone’s grace and understanding as we follow up with our subject matter experts to fully answer those questions. Also, future updates will be provided to Michigan Medicine employees through Headlines, Ops Update, and global communications. Monitor your email and check with your supervisor regularly.

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