September 27, 2023
Dear Members and Friends:
With the beginning of the new church year and in recognition of current science and recommendations regarding the ongoing presence of COVID-19 variants in the community, the Executive Team revisited in August the Vaccination Policy for UCM employees and choir members that had been outlined in UCM’s Covid Safety Policies dated February 23, 2022 and subsequently revised in September of 2022. Those policies require vaccination of all employees and choir members while allowing for medical and religious exemptions under certain prescribed circumstances. Those deemed exempt are required to submit to regular testing. The original impetus for the vaccine requirement was the health and safety of the staff members, choir members, and those with whom they might come in contact at UCM.
At the time vaccination requirements were originally contemplated at UCM, there was a belief that vaccination would prevent or at least significantly deter contracting the virus; the incidents of death and serious illness from the virus were at alarming, pandemic levels worldwide; and there were few effective treatments for ameliorating symptoms. With the passage of time, the virus has continued to mutate into a number of variants with varying degrees of transmissibility and severity; medications to treat COVID symptoms at an early stage have become widely available; and it has become apparent that available boosters do not in fact prevent contracting the virus or significantly reduce a recipient’s capacity for transmitting the virus.
While boosters do not prevent illness, they do significantly reduce the probability of life-threatening illness from the virus in the absence of other underlying conditions in those who choose to obtain them. They remain, therefore, an excellent option for persons seeking to reduce their own risk of severe illness or death from the virus.
At this time, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as numerous other health authorities, highly encourage those eligible to obtain Covid boosters as they are developed and become available. Consistent with these recommendations, UCM staff and choir members are encouraged to remain vigilant in obtaining updated COVID boosters as they are developed and made available.
In light of current science and research, the Executive Team has repealed the vaccination mandate contained in the Covid Safety Policies, entrusting employees and choir members to make well-reasoned decisions for themselves in whether and when to obtain COVID boosters.
Going forward, UCM encourages anyone who experiences COVID-like symptoms to self-test in instances of known exposure to a person who has tested positive for COVID; to abide by CDC guidelines for mask-wearing, isolation or quarantine subsequent to known exposure; and to report any positive test result to anyone known to have been potentially exposed during any period of transmissibility. All are encouraged to consult the Vermont Department of Health guidelines for prevention, testing, and treatment of Covid-19.
UCM Executive Team (Dawn Evans, Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, Leslie, Parr, and Donna Russo-Savage)