August 18, 2023

COVID-19 activity increasing across Middle Tennessee: Important reminders from Infection Prevention

Another wave of COVID-19 infections has started across the region. To reduce your risk of becoming ill and to create a safe environment for our coworkers and patients, VUMC Infection Prevention reminds you of these essential infection prevention precautions:

  • Don’t work/visit if ill:
    1. As per VUMC policy, any VUMC workforce member who develops symptoms compatible with COVID-19 (including but not limited to a new cough, congestion, fatigue, flu-like illness, loss of taste or smell) should not work until the VUMC Occupational Health Clinic return to work guidelines are met (link).
    2. If symptoms develop while at VUMC, immediately put on a surgical/procedural mask and talk to your supervisor about the need to leave.
    3. Advise visitors if they have any COVID-19 symptoms to please visit at another time when they are no longer contagious (at least 10 days after illness onset).
  • Get tested if you develop COVID-19 symptoms. This will inform whether you need to take specific treatment against COVID-19 to reduce your risk for severe illness.
  • Consider masking in high risk situations: Use of masking has been shown to reduce spread of the COVID-19 virus. While the COVID-19 activity has not reached the level to warrant a return to universal masking in all VUMC clinical areas, we encourage everyone to take caution and consider masking when in situations that increase the risk of exposure (such as in enclosed crowded environments with poor ventilation). Please respect the decision of those who decide to mask, and please put on a mask if a patient or colleague requests you to do so.
  • Isolate and test patients early: Place patients with COVID-19 symptoms into airborne and contact precautions (plus eye protection). Patients who will require an aerosol-generating procedure (link) should be placed into an airborne infection isolation (i.e., negative pressure) room.
  • Review your vaccination status: A new updated version of the COVID-19 vaccine is anticipated within the next 6-8 weeks; however, if you have not received a bivalent vaccine and have conditions that put you at high risk for COVID-19 complications, you may wish to go ahead and get vaccinated. See additional information below.

VUMC leadership in conjunction with the Department of Infection Prevention and the Occupational Health Clinic will continue to track measures of COVID-19 activity (e.g., hospitalizations, employee absences, suspected cases of healthcare-associated COVID-19).  In the event such metrics increase, other interventions, including universal masking in all clinical areas, may be reinstituted. 

For more information on how to protect yourself and your patients from COVID-19, visit

How to get a COVID vaccine today

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 years and older receive a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of whether you have previously completed the monovalent primary series.  If you are 65 and older, you are eligible for an additional bivalent vaccine if you are at least 4 months out from your previous bivalent shot.  If you are moderately or severely immunocompromised, you are eligible for an additional bivalent vaccine if you are at least 2 months out from your last shot.

The bivalent vaccine was released on Sept. 1, 2022.  Employees can check their Health & Wellness Information Portal (HWIP) at the link below.  If your record contains, “Omicron” COVID-19 vaccine in the list of vaccines received, then you have received the bivalent vaccine.

HWIP link:

VUMC employees can present to the Occupational Health Clinic 6th floor of Medical Arts Building to receive their COVID-19 bivalent vaccine.  No appointment is necessary.  To receive a bivalent vaccine at VUMC regional hospitals, please contact:

·         VWCH – Retha Parker, RN, MSN at 615-453-7232

·         VBH – Angel Whitaker, RN at 931-685-8404

·         VTHH – Janet Baker, RN at 931-393-7944