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University of Missouri suspends coronavirus vaccine mandate

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The University of Missouri System suspended its vaccine mandate Tuesday after a federal judge declared a Biden administration directive invalid.

A U.S. district judge in Georgia on Tuesday issued an injunction against a coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal contractors. The rule had led the UM System to mandate vaccines across its four campuses and other facilities because of the millions of federal dollars it receives for research and other purposes. The UM System carved out exemptions for religious and medical reasons and for those who don’t work closely with others in a federally-funded job.

The system’s Board of Curators approved the requirement last month, despite approving in September a resolution against vaccine mandates.

The vaccine mandate affected more than 27,000 employees in the U-M system.

Christian Basi, MU Spokesperson says, "for individuals who have uploaded their vaccination information already there is nothing further to worry about, you're done. We will continue to hold that information if we need it in the future."

The system's Columbia campus has rid itself of mask mandates and some other coronavirus health measures as cases on campus dropped and local health orders expired, though students and staff are still encouraged to wear masks. The University of Missouri’s campus in Columbia reported 34 active student cases as of Monday, with 11 new cases reported. The campus has 21 active staff cases and no sick faculty members.

The UM System said in an email to employees that those who have already applied for an exemption need take no further action.

"We have placed those exemptions in a pending status, because there is no point to ask for an exemption at this time." Basi said.

System leaders say, if the mandate has to go back into effect those exemptions request will be pulled out of pending and they will be reviewed as quickly as possible.

President Mun Choi encouraged all employees to get vaccinated in the message.

The message noted that the situation is fluid and later court rulings could lead to changes in the policy. If the mandate comes back into effect they will update the system of any changes to the policy.

Vaccine requirements remain in effect at MU Health Care.

It’s not clear how many of the UM System’s employees are already vaccinated. About 54% of Boone County residents are fully vaccinated. Health experts say vaccination is the best protection against the virus.

Other Biden administration vaccine mandates for some health care and employees of large companies have also been frozen in the courts.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

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