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Biden vaccine mandate affects more than 5,100 AU employees

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 3:02 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - Augusta University President Brooks Keel says about 84% of the university’s workforce will need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 for the school to comply with a federal mandate.

The mandate requires vaccinations for federal contractors as well as those who come in contact with the contractors.

At AU, than means 5,177 employees will need to document their COVID-19 vaccination, Keel said.

That doesn’t include employees of AU Health, which face separate vaccination rules from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The state of Georgia is fighting the Biden administration’s mandate in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Augusta. The lawsuit states that if AU can’t meet the deadline to get so many employees vaccinated, it stands to lose millions of dollars in federal contracts.

Speaking at a town hall-style meeting on Friday, Keel said the 84% figure is similar to other universities of the same type in Georgia.

He said the percentage of affected employees could increase as the school reviews contracts and the buildings where they’re implemented. So far, 55 buildings across the entire Augusta University campus are impacted.

“Employees who perform support functions, such as human resources, billing, legal review and other roles are impacted by this executive order,” he said. “Employees who are in the same workplace as other employees working on or in support of federal contracts, but do not themselves work directly or in conjunction with a federal contract are impacted by this order.”

Affected employees should have already received an email. They need to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, Keel said.

Keel explained the university will be evaluating employee requests for religious and medical exemptions.

Keel said the exemptions for this mandate are “very limited.”

“If you believe you have a sincerely held religious belief, or if you believe you have a medical accommodation or a medical reason for not receiving the vaccine, again, please stay tuned for more details on how to do that,” he said.

While student workers are impacted, the general student body is not, Keel said.

Keel will host a second town hall that will be held virtually at 3:30 p.m. this Friday to update employees regarding the federal order.

In the meantime, Keel strongly encouraged all employees to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report