Approaches to healthcare personnel exemption requests from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination: Results of a national survey

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2022 Dec;43(12):1822-1827. doi: 10.1017/ice.2022.47. Epub 2022 Feb 22.


Objective: Although a growing number of healthcare facilities are implementing healthcare personnel (HCP) coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination requirements, vaccine exemption request management as a part of such programs is not well described.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Participants: Infectious disease (ID) physician members of the Emerging Infections Network with infection prevention or hospital epidemiology responsibilities.

Methods: Eligible persons were sent a web-based survey focused on hospital plans and practices around exemption allowances from HCP COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

Results: Of the 695 ID physicians surveyed, 263 (38%) responded. Overall, 160 respondent institutions (92%) allowed medical exemptions, whereas 132 (76%) allowed religious exemptions. In contrast, only 14% (n = 24) allowed deeply held personal belief exemptions. The types of medical exemptions allowed varied considerably across facilities, with allergic reactions to the vaccine or its components accepted by 145 facilities (84%). For selected scenarios commonly used as the basis for religious and deeply held personal belief exemption requests, 144 institutions (83%) would not approve exemptions focused on concerns regarding right of consent or violations of freedom of personal choice, and 140 institutions (81%) would not approve exemptions focused on introducing foreign substances into one's body or the sanctity of the body. Most respondents noted plans for additional infection prevention interventions for HCP who received an exemption for COVID-19 vaccination.

Conclusions: Although many respondent institutions allowed exemptions from HCP COVID-19 vaccination requirements, the types of exemptions allowed and how the exemption programs were structured varied widely.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccines*


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines