Roughly 90 percent of UAB employees vaccinated

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covid vaccine illustration 492For the week of Oct. 18-24, UAB experienced the lowest number of COVID cases this semester. Twelve students, two university employees and 13 clinical employees represent the lowest weekly case totals for all three groups since data began to be tracked for the fall semester.

Sarah Nafziger, M.D., vice president for Clinical Support Services for UAB Medicine and Employee Health director, says vaccines have played a big role in improving case numbers.

Employees who provided proof of vaccination in September as a prerequisite for the $400 incentive payment helped UAB get a more accurate view of its employee vaccination rate — and the numbers are encouraging. Roughly 90 percent of UAB’s full- and regular part-time employees were vaccinated as of mid-October, according to data from UAB Employee Health and UAB Human Resources.

“Our data in Employee Health hovered around 70 percent of employees vaccinated for a while, but we knew there were those who were vaccinated outside of UAB who hadn’t shared their status,” Nafziger said. “Through the incentive program, we learned of significantly more employees who had been vaccinated.”

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is free, safe and readily available. Employees also can make an appointment for their first or second doses using this online form. UAB employees who completed two Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses now can receive a booster shot from 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday in Margaret Cameron Spain Auditorium. 

Student vax rates rising

Student vaccination rates have also climbed throughout the fall semester. The rate of vaccination among UAB students this fall is “fantastic,” said Michael Faircloth, M.D., medical director for UAB Student Health and Wellness, and he expects them to continue to rise during the academic year.

As of mid-October, at least 62 percent of students who come to campus for classes are fully vaccinated, and 67 percent have received at least one dose. Among students who reside on campus, the rates are even higher: Some 71 percent are fully vaccinated, and 77 percent have had at least one dose, he says.

Vaccination and reporting are voluntary for UAB students, so Faircloth presents these numbers as minimums. He is optimistic that the rate is actually higher, much as employee vaccination rates were until recently. “We expect our rates to improve as more students get their records uploaded to the student wellness portal,” he said.

Students have responded well to communications and incentives to get vaccinated or upload proof of vaccination to their student health records, he says. “Multiple incentives have been offered, all of them good. The ‘Vaxxed and Back at UAB’ T-shirts — students really love those,” Faircloth said.  Students have also received incentives, including housing, tuition and book scholarships, parking passes, hats, football tickets, and more. 

 UAB Student Health and Wellness continues to offer the free Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in its clinic and also partners with UAB Medicine/Employee Health to present pop-up clinics in high-traffic areas. Two more are planned for 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, in the lobby of the Collat School of Business and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, in the Hill Student Center Performance Lounge to distribute the Pfizer vaccine.