UA complying with federal order requiring COVID-19 vaccines for workers

By Rocio Hernandez
Published: Monday, October 18, 2021 - 1:54pm
Updated: Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 8:11am

The state’s three public universities, including the University of Arizona, announced last Friday that they would be requiring COVID-19 vaccines for their employees.

The decision was based in part on the university's federal contracts which provide hundreds of millions dollars of support to its research program, said UA president Robert Robbins. 

“The university’s federal contracts fund critical research, employment and educational efforts and while we respect individual opinions regarding vaccines, we will continue these mission-critical endeavors and will comply with the requirement," said UA President Robert Robbins in a Monday media briefing. 

"I think everyone understood that we had to do this. I think it's right thing to do."

Under a presidential order, all employees at institutions that contract with the federal government, such as the UA, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-17 by Dec. 8. So far, about half of the institution’s 16,000 employees have submitted proof of vaccination. The university will make religious and medical exemptions, but Robbins said it’s not clear what will happen to individuals who refuse to comply.

“We’ve got to look to the federal government to give us guidance," Robbins said. "They put this rule on us but as I understand it, they haven’t given us firm guidance about what happens if there is that rare individual who chooses not to get a vaccine and does not get an exemption.”

A vaccine mandate for students is not on the horizon, he said.

Coronavirus Education Vaccines