UW Health will require all employees and volunteers to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by May 2.

According to a press release from UW Health, those who are eligible to receive the booster dose must do so by May 2 or they will be “subject to actions up to and including termination of employment.”

All staff having a booster dose is both rational and necessary for ensuring the continued safety of their patients, UW Health Chief Quality Officer Jeff Pothof said in the press release.

According to the CDC, a fully vaccinated status lessens the chance of death or hospitalization from a COVID-19 infection. The booster dose renews the immune response to the virus, as the original dosage’s efficacy decreases over time.

UW Health’s staff have generally been supportive of the requirement, with “only a handful” remaining unvaccinated, Pothof said in the press release.

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Leah Nyholm, who is a student and the University of Wisconsin and certified nursing assistant at UW Health, said she fully supports UW Health’s new mandate.

“As a float CNA, I see firsthand how COVID affects patients, families, and employees everyday,” Nyholm said. “The booster is just one step to keep the community protected as we head into our third year of this pandemic.”

People who received either two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine five months ago or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine two months ago are currently eligible for a booster dose, the press release said.

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UW Health, SSM Health and UnityPoint Health instated vaccine requirements in summer of 2021, but SSM Health has not yet announced an additional booster dose requirement, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

UW Health employees with a documented medical condition which prevents them from being vaccinated safely, or have a religious reason protected by state law may seek exemption from the mandate, according to the press release.

“After more than two years of this ever-changing pandemic, we know the importance of getting vaccinated and getting boosted,” Pothof said in the press release.