University of Utah Health is first hospital system in state to require that employees get COVID-19 vaccine

The medical board approved the mandate after the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Nurse Sue Day is photographed as COVID-19 vaccines are offered to University of Utah students in Salt Lake City on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021. The University of Utah Health medical board voted Monday to require that hospital and clinic employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The University of Utah Health board voted Monday to mandate that all employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

This is the first major hospital system in Utah to require that employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The announcement comes a week after the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer vaccine and was no longer barred from setting vaccination mandates under Utah law.

The University of Utah, the campus where the health system is headquartered, announced Friday that all students who attend classes in person must get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Weber State and Utah State made similar announcements.

The University of Utah Health board’s resolution impacts all hospital and clinic staff, including all providers and Academic Health Sciences staff who work with patients, according to an announcement on its Facebook page.

“As a health system caring for our community, we appreciate the opportunity to do all we can to reduce the rates of infection, hospitalization and death throughout our state,” the statement read.

Last week, the University of Utah Health system reported that 80% to 85% of its workers are vaccinated against COVID-19.

University of Utah Health’s vaccine mandate will go into effect in mid- to late September.

Intermountain Healthcare, HCA/MountainStar and Steward Health — the three other major hospital systems in Utah — are not requiring COVID-19 vaccine for its employees. Steward Health didn’t immediately respond to The Salt Lake Tribune’s request for comment Monday night.

Lance Madigan, media relations manager for Intermountain, said the hospital system was considering requiring employees to be vaccinated against coronavirus but hadn’t made the decision yet.

“We fully support vaccination as the safest and most effective way to prevent becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and strongly encourage our employees and all eligible people to be vaccinated,” Madigan said.

Dr. Tamara Sheffield, Intermountain medical director for preventive medicine, said in a news conference last week that more than 75% of Intermountain employees were fully vaccinated.

State health department officials announced Monday that from Friday through Sunday, 10,995 more Utahns were fully vaccinated, bringing the total to 1,575,506 — or 48.1% of Utah’s total population.