Health Watch: University of Alaska Fairbanks to mandate vaccination for federal contract employees

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Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 4:11 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) announced this week that it will be requiring vaccination against COVID-19 for all employees involved with federal contracts.

According to Pat Pitney, UA Interim President, the mandate which goes into effect December 8th, will apply not just to employees paid by federal contracts.

“We wanted to make sure that the employees knew that we needed to do this and we were protecting them,” Pitney explained. “I want [them] to know that this executive order pertains to just the federal contracts at this time, but also want to make sure people know that we expect additional contract provisions coming forward and potentially Department of Education funding tied too.”

Pitney continued, “The federal requirements do apply to all people directly paid by contracts, anyone who supports them or works near them, and so [on]. This captures all of the facilities on the Troth Yeddha campus in Fairbanks and the research functions, the UAF research functions outside of Fairbanks such as the Toolik Field Station, Poker Flat Research Station, etc.”

Pitney has also voiced support for the lawsuit Alaska has joined in challenging the executive order from the Biden administration requiring vaccinations for all federal contractors.

“I do support the governor’s challenge of the broad range of President Biden’s executive order and hope that in the future it has a much narrower reach than it does today,” Pitney said.

Dan White, Chancellor for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has voiced support for the mandate, stating that there are already vaccination requirements on the UAF Troth Yeddha campus.

“We will have, of course, waivers available for religious and medical reasons,” White elborated. “I also want to note that what this adds - because we of course already have some vaccine requirements: students in residence halls for example, the student athletes, some specific courses have vaccine requirements from a student standpoint - what this adds is student employees. This doesn’t apply to all in-person classes, but there are of course other vaccine requirements that do apply to different sectors of students.”

According to White, there has been support for this mandate from various levels of the university’s governance.

White remarked, “The faculty staff and students are represented at the university by what we call governance groups that are our representatives of faculty, staff and students who interact with the university administration and participate in decision making. All three of those groups - faculty, staff, and students - have requested a vaccine requirement for us.”

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