UAB Will Require Vaccination of Healthcare Workers as Alabama’s COVID Hospitalizations Near Record High

Coronavirus illustration. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

With the number of COVID-19 patients in Alabama nearing a record high, the University of Alabama at Birmingham announced Tuesday that it will require employees of the UAB Health System to be vaccinated for the coronavirus.

There were 2,723 Covid patients being treated in Alabama hospitals on Tuesday, the most since Jan. 19, the state Department of Public Health reported. The state’s record number of hospitalized Covid patients was 3,084 on Jan. 11.

UAB said all its employees and others working in its hospitals and clinics must be vaccinated for Covid before Nov. 12. Officials said UAB Hospital was treating 185 patients on Tuesday for the coronavirus and its aftereffects.

Alabama’s total number of Covid cases rose to 641,386 in Tuesday’s ADPH report, including 4,032 new cases since Monday’s total, bringing the seven-day average to 3,640 new cases a day. The average had dropped as low as 153 a day on June 23.

ADPH reported an additional 33 deaths from Covid, raising the state’s total for the pandemic to 11,832.

UAB employees have long been required to be vaccinated for other infectious diseases such as flu. If an employee cannot take the vaccine because of a medical condition, disability or religious belief, he or she can request an exemption, officials said.

“Patients in our hospital and clinical settings are vulnerable, very sick and at higher risks for complications,” said Dr. Sarah Nafziger, vice president of clinical support services for the UAB Health System.

“Unvaccinated health care workers put these patients at greater risk,” she added.

Around 90 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients at UAB are unvaccinated, Nafziger said.