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Moving Forward Together

The statewide deadline for compliance with Governor Inslee’s vaccination mandate passed yesterday, meaning all UW Medicine employees must now be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved exemption as a condition of employment.

Today marks a new chapter in our fight against the pandemic.

We are pleased that, as of last night, UW Medicine is fully compliant with the mandate. We accomplished this because you, as a community, prioritized your health and the safety of others and by so doing, created a safer environment for everybody.

Now, as you walk the hallways or meet with your colleagues, you can trust that nearly every employee you encounter – including all employees in our clinical areas – has been vaccinated. Why does this matter? Because people who are not fully vaccinated are 9 times more likely to test positive, 48 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 69 times more likely to die of COVID-19.

Vaccination saves lives and reduces the strain on our healthcare system. We’ve known from the beginning of this outbreak that it was going to take all of us working together to end the pandemic. We’re not there yet, but compliance with the mandate is a big step in the right direction.

We also acknowledge the anxiety of the past few weeks leading up to October 18 and the departure of our colleagues who chose not to take the COVID-19 vaccine and did not qualify for a medical or religious exemption. We value the contributions they made to UW Medicine over the years and wish them well in their future endeavors.

We also send encouragement and support our colleagues now on leave who have started their vaccine series, but who are not yet fully vaccinated. These employees will be returning to work over the coming days and weeks, but in the meantime, we ask for your cooperation in assisting with temporary needs for teams that may be short staffed.

Looking ahead, we see plenty of reasons for optimism. Nearly 82% of King County residents 12 and older have completed their vaccine series. Locally, case rates have been trending downward for weeks. And it appears likely that at least one of the main COVID-19 vaccines will be authorized for pediatric use, perhaps as early as next month.

We are grateful for these developments, but equally so for all of you and the loyalty, commitment, and dedication you have shown to each other and our patients.

May you stay safe and be well as we move forward together.

Sincerely,

Lisa Brandenburg
President, UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics
Vice President for Medical Affairs
University of Washington

Timothy H. Dellit, MD
Chief Medical Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs,
University of Washington and
President, UW Physicians

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