Covid-19 Updates & Information
Effective March 13, 2023, The University of New Mexico will no longer require the COVID-19 primary vaccine series and initial booster for students and employees.
UNM Health and Health Sciences programs and clinical areas will continue to maintain their COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
Individuals with a hire date of March 13, 2023, or later are no longer required to provide proof of vaccination or apply for an exemption.
Students enrolling in classes after March 13, 2023, are no longer required to provide proof of vaccination or apply for an exemption.
UNM will no longer require students, faculty, and staff to report COVID-19-positive tests through the online portal or upload COVID-19 vaccination records.
UNM continues to strongly recommend that the Lobo community remain up to date with vaccinations, stay at home if sick, and follow CDC guidelines for all COVID-19 matters.
Frequently Asked Questions
The administrative mandate was a response to a public health emergency and was not meant to be a permanent, institution-wide policy. The COVID-19 vaccine mandate was implemented based on the best available science, knowledge, conditions, and guidance we had available at the time. Today, that mandate is no longer based on the most up to date science. It also contains some outdated provisions that limit its intended outcome and hinder our ability to manage it effectively, such as requirement that individuals receive only the initial series of vaccination and one follow up booster, with no provisions for subsequent vaccinations or boosters.
Our medical experts have determined that we are no longer in a pandemic. Rather, we are in the endemic phase based on the level of immunity across our country and across our community. This means that there will likely always be COVID circulating in the population, with cases increasing and decreasing, as we see annually with influenza. Similar to the flu, COVID is a syncytial respiratory virus that most likely will not disappear from the human population; rather, it becomes part of the pathogens that regularly affect our population.
First, we have treatments, therapeutics, and diagnostic tools that didn’t exist in the early days of the pandemic, including the ability to reliably detect the virus–even at home–and respond much more quickly and effectively to sickness. It is also clear that this virus can change rapidly, meaning the vaccine booster available today may not adequately fight the current virus, due to the lag between creating a vaccine for a particular strain and its availability.
We also know that vaccination does not prevent infection nor the transmission of the virus; rather, it prevents severe sickness in the majority of those who contract it. For those hospitalized, we now have more and better resources available to treat patients, decreasing patient mortality and morbidity and sending patients home more quickly.
We strongly believe that there are benefits to the vaccine and to keeping up with the most current boosters available. We also know there may be side effects, especially in younger cohorts, though these instances are extremely rare. We continue to encourage individuals to speak with their healthcare providers about their options, including which vaccine and series of boosters may be best, given an individual’s particular healthcare situation.
Vaccine mandates are one of our most effective public health interventions, but they should be used only out of necessity—such as when there are no other valid interventions to curtail a pandemic. When the first COVID-19 vaccines became available in early 2021, we were in the middle of a severe global pandemic with overwhelmed hospitals and medical centers. The mandate was implemented in hopes of reducing infection and transmission of the virus and decreasing mortality and morbidity in those infected. As we have since learned, COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at reducing mortality and morbidity, but do not prevent infection or transmission.
We understand that lifting the vaccine mandate may make some employees uncomfortable about working in person. While the most effective way to protect yourself from COVID infection and illness is to stay up to date on vaccines and wear a high-quality mask, employees who continue to have concerns should begin by speaking with their chair, director, or other appropriate supervisor about viable options that work for you and your department.
Where applicable, you may need to request or revisit a reasonable accommodation due to a disability or medical condition and should seek additional guidance from the Office of Compliance, Ethics, and Equal Opportunity on the reasonable accommodation process.
If you believe that you require an accommodation, you should begin by submitting an accommodation request form to the Office of Compliance, Ethics, and Equal Opportunity (CEEO). We know that many employees have both an exemption from the current mandate as well as an approved reasonable accommodation. In these cases, please reach out directly to CEEO at (505) 277-0169, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss specific circumstances, questions, or concerns.
For anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19, regardless of your vaccination status, please remain at home and quarantine until your symptoms clear for at least 24 hours. Unless you work in an Health and Health Sciences clinical setting, you do not need clearance to return to work.
First, notify your supervisor and exit campus if you are on campus. You do not need to get an additional PCR test if you have had a positive at-home rapid test.
Next, please isolate at home for 5 days. The day that you became symptomatic OR tested positive (whichever comes first) is counted as “Day 0”. You will then count five days starting on the next day and can return to work on day 6 as long as you do not have symptoms and are fever-free for 24 hours without medicine.
If you have no symptoms after five (5) days you can return to work but must wear a 3-ply or better medical/health procedure mask when around others for five (5) more days.
To prevent the spread of COVID, please inform anyone you have recently had close contact with and encourage them to get tested, monitor for symptoms, and reduce exposure to other people.
Employees who are required to isolate or quarantine due to a positive test, symptoms, or close contact may be able to utilize “situational remote work,” allowing them to work from home rather than coming to campus or taking leave.
No. The state of New Mexico no longer requires the reporting of COVID positives, so this requirement has been phased out.
Lifting the mandate does not preclude UNM from continuing to support COVID-19 and other vaccination efforts within our community. Vaccinations continue to be strongly endorsed, regardless of the lifting of the mandate.
The process for pre-hire vaccine verification will be stopped and new hires will no longer be required to submit vaccine info or exemption requests through the UNM vaccine verification site. We will make the appropriate changes in job postings and the UNM jobs website to alert applicants to the change in vaccine requirements. Employees working in a clinical setting who are still subject to vaccine requirements will likely follow the same processes for providing COVID vaccine info, as is done for other required vaccines, such as influenza.
I was separated from my position for non-compliance with the COVID-related protocols. Am I eligible for rehire?
Yes. Those non-disciplinary separations did not impact rehire eligibility. Any separated individuals remain eligible to apply for open positions and may be hired back into their previous positions if a department so chooses.
All Health System employees and those who work in our clinical settings must be vaccinated with their primary vaccination series, consistent with federal requirements under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Regardless of clinical responsibility or patient contact, our policies and procedures for COVID-19 vaccination apply to hospital staff who provide any care, treatment or other services for the hospital and its patients. This includes hospital employees, licensed practitioners, students, trainees, volunteers, contract labor, and any employee who interacts with patients or employees who interact with patients. Vaccination for this part of the UNM family ensures we are protecting our most vulnerable population, our patients, and allows our health system to provide safe care for our community.
No matter what it is you’re sick with, stay home, don't work, and concentrate on getting well. If you need to, reach out to Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) for information or if you want to go in for an appropriate evaluation and treatment. However, to keep caseloads at SHAC manageable, you are not required to obtain a written medical excuse from SHAC for missing your class. However, do let the faculty in your class know that you’re sick so that appropriate accommodations can be made.
I’m faculty, and one of my students is out sick. Do they need to provide a medical excuse for their absence?
You are not required to ask students to provide a written medical excuse.
Please consult with your health care provider about your concerns. To minimize the effects of an infection, UNM continues to encourage individuals to get vaccinated and to keep up with their appropriate boosters. You may also choose to wear a mask, but please ensure it is a KN-95 or N-95 mask that fits you correctly. Stay home if you’re not feeling well and wash your hands regularly.