Latest information on federal vaccine mandates

UPDATE, Nov. 4, 21: Federal officials announced the deadline to comply with the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate has been moved to Jan. 4, 2022. Additionally, individuals who are affected by the mandate would have until Jan. 4, 2022 to receive their last vaccination shot (i.e. the second shot of a two-dose vaccine or receiving a one-dose vaccine).


University faculty, staff, and student employees,

In recent days, a number of higher education institutions have rolled out vaccine mandates for all faculty, staff and student employees due to new federal rules.

These mandates are the result of Executive Order 14042, which directs those with federal contracts to follow new workplace protocols that would require vaccination and mask mandates for covered faculty, staff and student employees by Dec. 8, with some exemptions.

The University of Missouri System universities hold many federal contracts that fund hundreds of millions of dollars of research and other activities that are critical to our academic mission and service to Missourians. These contracts also support jobs and programs that contribute substantially to our state’s economy. They include:

Providing medical care to veterans
Developing radioisotopes for cancer drugs
Research projects that support national defense for the Army, Navy, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Extensive research that brings agricultural advances in support one of Missouri’s primary industries

In recent weeks, the UM System has been reviewing the details and processes that would be needed to comply with the new rules at each of its universities. We have also been monitoring the national situation and evolving legal interpretation of how these new rules are carried out, as well as any legal challenges.

On Oct. 27, attorneys general from 21 states, including Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, submitted a letter to President Biden objecting to the order’s broad provisions that leave government contractors “little choice but to require their entire workforce be vaccinated.” The letter requests that the order be halted. Attorney General Schmitt co-leads a 10-state coalition that filed a lawsuit over the issue on Oct. 29.

Also last week, Governor Mike Parson issued Executive Order 21-10 regarding the federal vaccine mandates. We will work closely with the offices of the governor and the attorney general to ensure that any plans we implement will satisfy the key points included in the governor’s order. Any decision or plan for how the University of Missouri will move forward will require a vote of the Board of Curators.

It’s important for all faculty, staff and student employees to know they may be affected by the new requirements by Dec. 8. Students who do not work for the university are not included under this order.

This announcement comes before many key details have been determined and is intended to notify employees of the evolving situation to provide time to seek vaccination if you have not already.

If you are fully vaccinated, we ask you to upload your proof of vaccination if you have not already done so through the COVID Vaccine Uploader in myHR. That will help us develop an efficient implementation policy if and when it is needed. If you are not vaccinated, starting the process as soon as possible is recommended as some of the vaccinations require two doses. Being “fully vaccinated” to meet the federal rules is defined as two weeks after a two-dose vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) or a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson) is completed.

Federal guidance released Sept. 24 identifies the following as “covered employees”:

Individuals who work directly on government contracts (even if they work remotely);
Individuals who work “in connection” with a government contract, such as individuals working in supporting departments;
Individuals who work at the same location or who may come in contact with individuals in the two categories above unless the university can “affirmatively determine” that the “covered employee” will have no interaction with a non-covered employee, including in common areas such as lobbies, stairwells, parking garages, etc.

The guidance also includes exceptions for medical or religious reasons, and information for requesting exceptions will be forthcoming. Testing or previous infection does not qualify for meeting the requirement.

As decisions are made and plans finalized, we will communicate further about how exactly these new requirements will apply to all four universities and other university facilities.

In the meantime, we continue to encourage vaccination for those who have not done so already. You can find information about vaccination opportunities on our university websites or throughout the state here.

Thank you,

Mun Y. Choi, President, University of Missouri
C. Mauli Agrawal, Chancellor, UMKC
Mohammad Dehghani, Chancellor, Missouri S&T
Kristin Sobolik, Chancellor, UMSL