Oklahoma research universities begin implementing COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Some Oklahoma universities will now be implementing a vaccine mandate for employees.

The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa have published statements regarding the new mandate.

On Friday, October 29, OU’s president, Joseph Harroz, Jr., and Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Dorothy Anderson, sent out a letter regarding the new mandate.

The letter reflected on President Biden’s executive order that was issued last month, mandating COVID-19 vaccination for federal employees, federal contractors and other identified individuals.

OU’s officials stating that, “after a careful legal assessment, it has been determined the order applies to Oklahoma research universities – including the University of Oklahoma – and their employees.”

Therefore, OU is obligated to comply.

“If we do not comply, OU runs the risk of losing hundreds of millions of dollars each year in federal funding for the life-changing research, education, and services we provide. Because of this federal mandate, and after thorough examination and consultation with government, medical, and public health officials, OU will require COVID-19 vaccination for all employees.”

This mandate will apply to all OU employees, including faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate student employees, part-time, temporary, PEAK employees and graduate research and teaching assistants.

This group of OU employees much be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021, with a WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine. This does not apply to students who are not employees.

The letter did state that exemptions would be considered.

“If an employee believes that health or religious reasons prevent them from receiving a vaccine, they will be allowed to submit a request for an accommodation.”

OU’s Human Resources will issue guidance on how to provide proof of vaccination as well as the accommodation process in the coming days.

OU administers Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines for free. Campus-specific information is available below for individuals seeking vaccines.

Norman Campus

Health Sciences Center

OU-Tulsa

Oklahoma State University will also be implementing this new mandate.

In a letter issued by OSU’s Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, Dr. Johnny Stephens, “Oklahoma State University has numerous federal contracts that exceed $90 million in fiscal year 2021 alone, making our university subject to this new federal contractor mandate.”

All OSU employees must be fully vaccinated no later than December 8, 2021, meaning that employees must have received their final vaccination shot by November 24, “unless the employee is legally entitled to an accommodation due to a medical or religious exemption.” OSU has set up a section for religious and medical accommodation requests at the Employee Vaccine Portal.

OSU employees that must comply with the mandate include, “those who work on covered federal contracts (even working remotely), those who work in connection with covered federal contracts and those who work at the same location as employees who work on covered federal contracts or in connection with covered federal contracts. The mandate also applies in all locations in which covered federal employees work.” This includes full-time and part-time faculty at Stillwater, OSU-Tulsa, Center for Health Sciences locations and OSU Extension. All OSU Extension and OSU Ag Research personnel statewide are considered OSU-Stillwater employees.

Graduate and undergraduate students employed by OSU, those on graduate assistantships and student employees on campus must also comply with the mandate.

According to OSU’s dashboard, more than 17,000 students and employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

University Health Services on the Stillwater campus is providing both the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. In Tulsa, Employee Health will be scheduling vaccine appointments (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson).

Employees who were vaccinated at University Health Services may provide consent in the Employee Vaccine Portal to securely authorize the submission of their vaccination records to OSU Human Resources. Employees vaccinated outside of UHS may upload their proof of vaccination through the Employee Vaccine Portal.

University of Tulsa’s executive director of marketing and communications, Mona Chamberlin, confirmed to KFOR that TU notified its employees about the mandate on Wednesday.

TU has issued the following statement:

“On Sept. 9, President Biden signed an executive order directing that all employees of contractors that do business with the federal government are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The University of Tulsa is a federal contractor, and the order applies to TU along with most other research universities. Universities in Kansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Arizona, Virginia and elsewhere have begun notifying their communities of the need to comply.

After concerted efforts to incentivize and educate our employees about the personal and community benefits of receiving a vaccine, the vast majority of TU employees already are immunized against COVID-19. While these voluntary efforts have proven effective, as demonstrated by our high vaccination rate and our low number of cases, we have no option but to comply with the mandate.

The executive order requires federal contractor employees to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, 2021. We have informed our employees of this mandate and will provide support so they can receive the required vaccine in a timely manner or can complete the process to successfully request an exemption on medical or religious grounds.”

Attorney General John O’Connor and 20 Attorneys General from other states wrote to President Biden to challenge his administration’s mandatory vaccination requirement for federal contractors.

“I am standing up for Oklahomans’ rights,” said AG O’Connor. “Joe Biden does not have the authority to infringe on an individual’s freedom to make healthcare decisions for themselves and their families.”

You can read that letter in full below.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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