NEWARK — University Hospital fired a "handful" of workers after discovering they submitted fake vaccination cards to comply with the hospital's requirement, according to a report by NJ Spotlight.

The state-run hospital, which administered the first COVID-19 vaccine dose in New Jersey when it became available through the federal government last December, had required all hospital staff to provide proof of vaccination by Aug. 3 or face termination from their job.

Dr. Shereef Elnahal, president and CEO of University Hospital, told NJ Spotlight that they were able to spot "noticeable differences" between valid cards and some phony ones.

He also told NJ Spotlight News that everybody is “less safe” if they are dishonest about their vaccination status.

On his Linkedin page, Elnahal wrote the hospital had a 93% compliance rate with "only a handful undergoing disciplinary action" for non-compliance, with a few exemptions approved by the hospital. He did not specify the actions taken.

"The denominator here does NOT include physicians, residents, or students because they’re technically not UH employees (our vax % would be much higher if it did)," the former state Health Commissioner also wrote.

Elnahal said "dozens" of workers chose to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after facing initial disciplinary action for non-compliance, after he met with them to address their concerns.

"We hosted local conversations, including a half dozen meals I had personally with unvaccinated employees to listen, educate, and approach hesitancy with compassion rather than disdain. This worked- after one such lunch, over half of the employees I spoke with were vaccinated less than a week after many of them told me they were ready to resign," Elnahal wrote.

University Hospital on Tuesday morning did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.

Murphy on Aug. 6 issued an executive order which required workers at certain state and private health care facilities and in high-risk, congregate settings to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

University Hospital is an academic medical center and a principal teaching hospital of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

Several high-ranking RWJBarnabas Health workers previously lost their jobs after they refused to comply with the provider's policy for workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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