UA suspends employee COVID vaccination requirement

Zach Johnson | @ZachJohnsonCW, News Editor

The University of Alabama suspended its requirement for employees to be vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022.

The University announced the mandate on Oct. 22 in compliance with President Joe Biden’s executive order, which mandates COVID-19 vaccines for employees of federal contractors. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services extended the same requirement to health care employees. 

Federal courts have suspended the mandate after U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker in Georgia ruled against it. The order was in response to a lawsuit from seven states, including Alabama. Baker’s ruling follows a suspension of the CMS mandate for health care workers on Nov. 30. 

The University will no longer take action against employees who miss the Jan. 4 deadline. 

The State of Alabama took steps in late October to counter Biden’s vaccine mandate by preventing any state agency from penalizing an individual or business for not complying with the mandate. The move did not affect UA policy

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall recently won a pair of court challenges contesting the private employer and healthcare worker mandates before turning to the mandate for federal contractors. 

“I’ll call the Biden vaccine mandate nonsense what it is: and that is an un-American, outrageous overreach,” Governor Kay Ivey wrote in a tweet. “This morning, we had ANOTHER win in our fight for freedom when a federal judge put a nationwide halt on the federal contractor mandate. Momentum is on our side.” 

Since the outcome of the legal challenge has not been decided, the University’s vaccination requirement will be reevaluated in the future depending on the court’s ruling. 

Employees are still encouraged to upload their proof of COVID-19 vaccination or submit an exemption request using the UA vaccine portal.   

More than 72% of employees and more than 62% of students reported at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the most recent update to the UA System COVID Dashboard on Oct. 22.