Leadership Message

September 9, 2021


After 18 months of the pandemic, it is clear that a highly vaccinated population provides the only path to controlling the spread of COVID and being able to get on with life. The scientific evidence demonstrates that vaccines are safe and effective at helping blunt the spread of the virus and preventing serious illness and death from infection. The FDA has fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use by those 16 years and older, and other vaccines are soon expected to receive final, full FDA approval.

Given this evidence, many organizations are now adopting vaccine requirements for their workforces, including the University of California and the Department of Energy. Now it is time for us at the Lab to do our part to help bring the pandemic under control. By November 1, 2021, all Berkeley Lab employees, whether they work on site or off site, will be required to either be fully vaccinated or have submitted a medical, disability, or religious exception, or a pregnancy deferment. Affiliates who enter or expect to enter any Lab site must provide proof of vaccination or have an approved exception in place, also by November 1.

To be considered fully vaccinated you must have received your final vaccine dose for at least two weeks prior to November 1 and have uploaded a valid vaccination card for verification. If you are not currently vaccinated, you need to act immediately to begin the vaccination process so you can be fully vaccinated by the deadline of November 1.

Currently, 95% of our on-site workers and 84% of those working away from Lab sites are already fully vaccinated. We believe that more Lab teleworkers are already fully vaccinated and simply need to upload their vaccination cards. The number of people who still need to be vaccinated is relatively small, and we will be communicating with this group directly and frequently. We have a website with more information, including answers to many common questions.

We understand that getting vaccinated has been a difficult decision for some people. Since late last year, we have heard from many of our people wondering why we didn’t make the vaccines mandatory as soon as they became available, and from others concerned that we would ever make them mandatory. We realize that no decision we could make on this matter will satisfy everyone. Today, given the overwhelming scientific evidence of the vaccines’ safety and efficacy, the public health consequences of not getting vaccinated, and the well-aligned guidance and requirements of the organizations we report to, the choice has become clear: To protect our workforce, everyone must be vaccinated.

If you are vaccinated and have not uploaded your vaccination card, please do so immediately at clinic.lbl.gov. If you have not started your series of vaccines, please do so immediately. To reach full immunity you may need up to 42 days depending on the vaccine provider. There is no cost for the vaccine and many places have walk-in availability. If you have questions about which vaccine is right for you, please contact your personal health care provider.

Best regards,

Mike Witherell

Laboratory Director

Carol Burns

Deputy Director for Research and Chief Research Officer

Michael Brandt

Deputy Director for Operations and Chief Operating Officer