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OU suspends employee COVID-19 vaccine mandate amid nationwide injunction

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Vaccination

A medical worker draws a COVID-19 vaccination into a syringe before an OU vaccination clinic March 26.

OU Human Resources announced the university will no longer require employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Jan. 4, 2022 in a Wednesday email.

OU employees were previously required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 4, 2022, in compliance with the federal vaccine requirement for contractors. U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker of Savannah, Georgia, temporarily blocked enforcement of the federal COVID-19 vaccine requirement for contractors Tuesday by a nationwide preliminary injunction, effectively suspending the mandate.

Vaccines are still required for limited groups of OU community members, according to the email, including any personnel who have volunteer obligations or responsibilities in a patient care setting, any person who wishes to participate in study abroad programs and OU Health Sciences Center employees.

OU employees are also no longer required to request new exemptions or comply with exemption accommodations unless they are in one or more of the groups still required to get vaccinated, according to the email.

Despite no formal requirement, OU still encourages its employees to fill out the online vaccine verification form as they get vaccinated.

Starting Dec. 9, COVID-19 administrative leave, which was made available to assist compliance with the federal mandate, is also suspended and will be unavailable until further notice. Benefits-eligible employees will still be able to use administrative leave on Dec. 27 and 28 as authorized by OU President Joseph Harroz Jr., according to the email.

Winter break administrative leave does not apply to the College of Medicine physicians or credentialed providers to OU Health partners, according to the email. Employees who must sustain continuous patient care, teaching schedules and service-related functions may also find winter break administrative leave unavailable.

Kaly Phan is a journalism sophomore and junior news reporter at The Daily.

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