Federal Vaccine Mandate Update

Employees and students may be required to get COVID-19 vaccinations, here’s why

October 14, 2021

In September, President Joe Biden announced several mandates requiring COVID-19 vaccination for employees. Details are still being worked out at the federal level to provide guidance on implementing these orders and many questions remain. At the same time, some state governments will likely take legal action to stop the application of these federal requirements.

The University of Southern Indiana may find itself in several categories of the federal requirements. As an employer with 100 or more employees, we await the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules with regard to ensuring the workforce is fully vaccinated or requiring a negative test on a weekly basis for those who are unvaccinated. However, this rule may only apply to private sector businesses.

The White House has also mandated vaccinations for federal contractors. Annually, the University registers as a federal contractor so that it has the possibility to receive grants and other federal opportunities. Additionally, by virtue of receiving federal financial aid for students, the University may meet the definition of a federal contractor. Any work-study student on campus could also fall into the federal contractor requirement. While formal guidance has not yet been received by USI, there has been a near term deadline set by the Biden administration to be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people are considered fully vaccinated:

  • Two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or
  • Two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

Therefore, employees and students would need to receive a first dose of the two-dose series by the last week in October or the single-dose by the end of November.

Even though a great deal of ambiguity remains, we believe it is prudent and the right thing to do to inform all employees and students of a possible forthcoming mandate from the federal government. If we are determined to be a federal contractor as indicated in the aforementioned, the December 8, 2021, deadline will soon be upon us. We are providing this narrative so that you, as an individual, can make the appropriate decision for you and your family moving forward. Please note: if December 8 becomes a mandated deadline, the University of Southern Indiana, like other entities around the state, will need to comply.

Vaccination appointments are available in the University Health Center (UHC) every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. Visit the UHC website to schedule an appointment.

If USI is required to comply with any COVID-19 vaccination mandate, employees may contact Human Resources and students may contact the Dean of Students Office to discuss documented health or religious-based accommodations.

The CDC now recommends those 65 years of age and older, residents 18 years and older who live or work in high-risk settings (including education staff), and people 50-64 with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine six months after their second dose. Data is still being reviewed for recommendations for boosters of the other vaccine types.

Finally, a reminder that currently, USI has a voluntary COVID-19 vaccination record reporting mechanism available for students, faculty and staff.

We know how difficult the COVID-19 pandemic has been for everyone and how polarizing vaccination mandates are for our country. In advance of this possible deadline, I would like to both thank you and express my appreciation for your civility and cooperation in adhering to continuing county, state and national safety measures.