No COVID vaccine mandate at Mississippi University for Women

Coronavirus

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi University for Women will not require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because the university is not at risk of losing federal money without a vaccine mandate, the school’s leader says.

“At present, we do not have any federal contracts that would force us to abide by that executive order,” MUW President Nora Miller told WCBI-TV.

Her comments came after the governing board for Mississippi’s eight public universities voted Monday to require COVID-19 vaccinations for employees at universities with federal contracts. It was a reversal from a vote the board took last month to prohibit public universities from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations unless students or employees work in a clinical setting, like at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

The new decision came in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring employees who do work connected to federal contracts be vaccinated unless they qualify for a medical, disability or religious exemption. Biden’s order, issued Sept. 9, says contractors must be vaccinated by Dec. 8.

Mississippi universities have about 120 federal contracts totaling at least $271 million.

According to federal guidance, even employees who do not work under federal contract must be vaccinated if they work in the same building or on the same campus as someone who does.

Miller said that while MUW leaders are encouraging everyone on campus to get vaccinated, she is relieved the mandate doesn’t apply to the university.

“I’m afraid that we would have some employees who might leave us in some key positions,” Miller said.

Mississippi State University has federal contracts, and spokesman Sid Salter told WCBI that about 75% of the employees on the Starkville campus are already vaccinated. The station reported that a small group demonstrated against the vaccine mandate Tuesday at Mississippi State.

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