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UM System prepares employees for possible federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

University of Missouri leaders sent an email to employees Tuesday warning of the possibility that workers will be required to get vaccinated as soon as December.

President Joe Biden's executive order requires those with federal contracts to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 8.

At the same time, an executive order from Gov. Mike Parson on Oct. 28 prohibits the mandating of vaccines for employees at any agency within the executive branch. It also said those offices won't be able to punish the individual or business if they object the mandate due to religious or medical reasons.

Spokesperson for the university, Christian Basi, says it's unclear at this time who it would actually apply to at the university.

"We haven't quite yet figured out how the federal mandate directly impacts the campus but if it does and if we come down to having to implement it, we wanted folks to be ready and be prepared and think about getting their vaccines," Basi said.

Basi said that it is still unclear if this will impact all faculty and staff. He said it is part of the legal review. However, one group of people on campus will not be affected.

"We do know for example, one population on campus that would not be affected by it would be students who are not employed by the university," Basi said. "So if you are student here at the university and you are going to class, but you are not employed, you don't have a campus job, there's a very strong likelihood that you would not be impacted by the Federal vaccine mandates."

In a survey of MU faculty in September, 85% of respondents said they thought all faculty, staff, and students should be vaccinated. Last month the Faculty Council voted 19-8 approving a resolution asking the Board of Curators to require vaccines for faculty, staff, and students.

Rabia Gregory, chair of the Faculty Council Faculty Affairs committee, says more than 800 colleges and universities adopted requirements for proof of vaccination.

"If a vaccine mandate is introduced that includes religious and medical exemptions, the majority of faculty at the University of Missouri will feel safer and relieved," Gregory said. "The curators have waited so long to make this decision that some faculty may not have time to be fully vaccinated before the federal regulations are imposed."

On Monday, the Biden administration said it would publish details of the mandate in the coming days.

Formal action will require a vote from the UM System Board of Curators which previously voted against mandates except where they already exist.

The board's next regular meeting is Nov. 18.

Basi says cases are extremely low although the university decided to expire its mask mandate.

As of Nov. 2, there were 9 active student cases 11 active staff cases.

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Chanel Porter

Chanel joined ABC 17 News in January 2021 after graduating from Penn State University. She enjoys traveling and a daily iced coffee.

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