Politics

UNC, NC State federal employees must get COVID 19 vaccine


UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University employees who are working on or in connection with a federal contract must get the COVID-19 vaccine under President Joe Biden’s recent federal directive.

Employees who work in the same location as those working on a federal contract must also be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8. All affected employees can request a university-authorized medical or religious accommodation.

The vaccine mandate applies to all full-time, part-time and temporary employees, including postdoctoral scholars and graduate students, at both universities. Currently, the federal vaccine requirement does not apply to grants or broadly to all student workers.

UNC-CH, N.C. State and East Carolina University sent out guidance about the vaccine mandate for federal contractors Monday.

UNC Greensboro also sent out a campus message that the federal mandate “will affect a very small number of our employees” working on or with federal contracts.

Most employees already meet vaccine requirement

Most employees at UNC-CH, NCSU and ECU are already vaccinated and have met the requirements of the new federal vaccine mandate, according to the universities.

At UNC-CH, 88% of all employees (93% of faculty and 85% of staff) have said they are vaccinated and most have uploaded documentation of their vaccination status.

At N.C. State, 95% of faculty, 78% of staff and 89% of graduate students have uploaded vaccine records or been vaccinated on campus.

At ECU, 82% of faculty and staff have attested to being vaccinated.

The universities will reach out to affected employees who have not been vaccinated or have not uploaded vaccine documentation.

UNC System officials and campus leaders have encouraged vaccinations and faced consistent pressure from some faculty members and students to require COVID-19 vaccines on UNC campuses, but this will be the first mandate.

The campus message from NCSU said it is likely that more employees will be subject to this vaccine mandate as the university continues to “evaluate the requirements and obtain additional federal and UNC System guidance.”

Why do university employees need COVID-19 vaccine?

The new vaccine requirement resulted from Biden’s Executive Order 14042 and guidance issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.

UNC-CH, N.C. State and ECU are subject to this federal mandate because they have hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts related to teaching, research and statewide outreach.

UNC-CH receives $160 million in federal contract funding, and NCSU has more than $360 million in active federal contracts. ECU receives more than $8 million in federal contract funding, which directly pays the salaries of about 40 employees, according to the university.

Duke University previously instituted a COVID-19 vaccine mandate this fall and has fired employees who did not get vaccinated or an exemption.

To meet the Dec. 8 deadline at UNC System universities, unvaccinated employees must have both shots of Moderna or Pfizer or the first shot of Johnson and Johnson by Nov. 24. Booster shots are not included in this mandate.

Faculty and staff can get vaccinated for free on any UNC System campus, including UNC-CH, N.C. State and ECU.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

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This story was originally published October 25, 2021 11:03 AM.

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Kate Murphy covers higher education for The News & Observer. Previously, she covered higher education for the Cincinnati Enquirer on the investigative and enterprise team and USA Today Network. Her work has won state awards in Ohio and Kentucky and she was recently named a 2019 Education Writers Association finalist for digital storytelling.
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