EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University faculty, staff and administrators will soon be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations to meet the terms of President Joe Biden's vaccination mandate for federal contractors.
“The federal government under President Biden's executive order that is geared towards federal contracts and as MSU receives federal contracts, we are obligated to also adhere to this executive order,” said MSU spokesperson Dan Olsen.
The presidents executive order requires parties that contract with the federal government to provide adequate COVID-19 safeguards to their workers, which includes requiring vaccinations. MSU employees will have to submit proof by Jan. 18.
“All MSU employees at this point that includes student employees, faculty, staff, etc.,” Olsen said.
Associate professor and President of the MSU Union of Non-Tenure Track Faculty Kate Birdsall said the proof requirement is what needs to be done.
“I'm glad we had to do it," Birdsall said. "I mean, I think it's, there's always the danger that all this time has passed, you know, folks have lost their cards or whatever. So I certainly hope they’ll take the county data that we can all get from the county if we need it.”
Michigan State has had a COVID vaccine requirement in place for all students, faculty and staff since August, but they weren't required to provide proof, just dates they received the shot.
“Basically, you had to go in to attest to who you were with your MSU Net ID and say, when you got the vaccine, first dose and second dose, and what brand you got,” Birdsall said.
Olsen said President Samuel Stanley sent a letter to staff as a way of letting them know to gather their proof of vaccination to submit.
“It let them know that you should start gathering that information. Your vaccination card if you have it, or check in with the state Department of Health and Human Services for a copy of your vaccination records," Olsen said. "So, providing them ample opportunity to gather that information, make any adjustments to their vaccination status, if they need to, through our verification through the vaccine verification form, and then we'll be asking for additional verification here in the coming weeks.”
Olsen said those who fail to do so by the deadline will face disciplinary actions.
“They will be considered out of compliance with the university's vaccination requirement, which can result in discipline up to an including termination from the university," Olsen said.
Not everyone on campus has been vaccinated because they've been exempt for medical, religious or online only reasons. Olsen said they're had 4,400 exemption requests and are continuing to work through them.
“Of those, 3600 roughly have been approved," Olsen said. "We have denied 454 and an additional 285 are pending an appeal. An additional 10 were denied and upheld on appeal. And so that leaves about 70 requests, they're still in the review process.”
Those who have been approved, will get to keep their vaccine exemption. Online only exemptions and medical exemptions with an expiration date will need to request a new one when they expire.
Olsen said to be considered fully vaccinated, an employee must have received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson. Booster shots are not a requirement, as of now.
Stanley's letter said they're working on a process to verify the vaccination status and proof of the university's employees and more detail will be shared in the coming months.