The University of Arizona will require all employees to submit proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 in line with federal requirements, according to an email announcement from UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins on Friday, Oct. 15.
All university employees including student workers, graduate assistants and associates have until Dec. 8, to digitally upload documentation to the UA Campus Health website to show they are fully vaccinated.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, “fully vaccinated” means that it has been at least two weeks since your second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna or two weeks since your single dose vaccine, such as Johnson and Johnson.
The only exceptions to the new mandate are people who “have been granted a religious or disability accommodation,” according to Robbins’s email.
As Executive Order 14042 — signed by President Joe Biden on Sept. 9 — states, all institutions contracted with the federal government (such as public universities) must comply with the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force’s guidance on COVID-19, which includes full vaccine requirements.
In his email, Robbins explained that the UA has “hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts, funding critical research, employment, and educational efforts, and already has received amended federal contracts that include this requirement.”
This announcement comes over four months after the Coalition for Academic Justice at UArizona released an open letter to the UA administration in which they expressed concerns about the “return to on-campus activities.”
In the letter, CAJUA also urged the UA to issue a requirement for all employees and students to be fully vaccinated.
For Leila Hudson, a UA associate professor and a member of CAJUA, this employee mandate is only the first step in the right direction.
“We need a more rigorous regime for students as well, not just employees,” Hudson said. “The student population is equally if not more important to our risk mitigation than the employee population, which is already largely vaccinated voluntarily.”
Hudson said that while many members of CAJUA are pleased with the university’s announcement, she thinks that the public health and safety of not only Tucson, but Arizona as a whole will not be best protected until all students are required to be vaccinated as well.
“As a professor, my main risk is not from my colleagues who are already mostly vaccinated,” Hudson said. “My concern as a professor is when I am in a classroom with 130 students, my risk comes from the student population.”
The official email announcement did not mention anything about what will happen to employees who fail to submit proof of vaccination by the deadline nor anything about the possibility of a student vaccination mandate in the future.
*Editor's Note: This article was updated with a conversation with CAJUA member Leila Hudson on Friday, Oct. 15, at 2:30 p.m.
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