NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

8th Town Hall Announced

Covid-19 Vaccinations Required for All HHS Health Care Workforce

A blue glove-covered hand injects a Covid vaccine needle into an arm, with the text below: Vaccine Requirements for Staff

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Aug. 12 that it will require members of its health care workforce to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The directive says all NIH staff who come into contact, or have the potential to come into contact with patients, must be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to report to work. Covid testing will not be an option in place of vaccination for these staff members.

The mandatory vaccine requirement will be a primary topic for the 8th Virtual Town Hall on Friday, Sept. 10 at 10:00 a.m. ET:

“NIH’s mission is to advance health and lengthen life,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, in a staff-wide email announcing the requirement. “We operate the largest hospital in the world dedicated entirely to clinical research. First and foremost, we must ‘do no harm’ and ensure patient and workforce safety. This includes minimizing the risk of transmission of illness to our patients and workforce.”

With more than 4.54 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses administered worldwide, there is enough data to know the vaccines are highly safe and effective in protecting against severe disease and hospitalization.

The new directive applies to all people working at NIH facilities, including but not limited to employees, contractors, trainees and volunteers, whose duties put them in contact or potential contact with patients at an NIH facility. This includes all staff, whether or not they are considered a health care worker, who work in any part of the Bldg. 10 complex. 

The directive also applies to health care practitioners, emergency medical responders, health care support staff (such as facilities, housekeeping, laundry, food services, waste management) and research staff who have contact or potential contact with patients at all other NIH facilities; those working in the carline Covid-19 test facility; and the NIH Fire Department, when emergency health services are provided.

NIH already requires personnel in health care settings to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine and other routine vaccinations, with processes for medical and religious exemptions. NIH will implement this new Covid-19 vaccination requirement using the same processes that are already in place for these other vaccines. 

If your job puts you in contact or potential contact with patients and you have not yet been vaccinated, you can schedule your vaccination appointment today at NIH by visiting

You can also get vaccinated in your community by going to or texting your zip code to 438829, which will return the 3 closest vaccination sites near you.

NIH is working on a plan to implement this new requirement. The timetable is not yet worked out. Additionally, the Office of Research Services is in the process of updating the online tool to report vaccination in the community to allow all NIH staff to attest to their vaccination status. Those who do not attest will be considered unvaccinated. 

As implementation planning progresses, regular updates and information will be posted to the Guidance for NIH Staff on Coronavirus intranet

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Assistant Editor: Eric Bock (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)