On September 9, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14042, “Ensuring Adequate COVID-19 Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors.” This Executive Order requires most federal contractors, including the University of Georgia, to comply with COVID-19 guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”). This guidance was initially issued on September 24, 2021, and requires that federal contracts or contract amendments entered into on or after October 15, 2021, include language mandating that, with limited exceptions, all covered employees of federal contractors must be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021.

On November 4, 2021, the White House announced that the December 8, 2021 deadline for all covered contractor employees to be fully vaccinated unless otherwise exempted has been extended. As a result of this action, the deadline for covered contractor employees to receive their final vaccination dose – either their second dose of a two-dose vaccine (e.g.: Pfizer or Moderna), or single dose of a single-dose vaccine (e.g.: Johnson & Johnson) – is now set as January 4, 2022.

The Task Force’s guidance also requires all employees and visitors to covered contractor workplaces to comply with current CDC guidance regarding mask wearing and physical distancing.

Next Steps

All covered contractor employees who are not seeking an exemption will need to begin documenting that they have been vaccinated, as required by the Federal Guidance. The DawgCheck COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement Response Survey. allows you to submit one of five accepted forms of proof as verification of your COVID-19 vaccination status. 

While additional guidance is being developed regarding how we will ensure compliance with the covered employee vaccination requirement, please remember that the University Health Center is administering the COVID-19 vaccine for free to any eligible member of the UGA community over the age of 16.

We encourage employees who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine to do so as soon as possible and remind you that an employee may take up to eight (8) hours of Non-Closure Emergency Leave for the purpose of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, an employee may also take up to sixteen (16) hours of Non-Closure Emergency Leave if he or she receives a COVID-19 vaccine and experiences negative side effects that prohibit the performance of their duties of employment. For additional information, please see Guidance on leave time for COVID-19 Vaccinations.


COVID-19 Vaccine Panel Discussion

Glen Nowak, PhD, from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication moderated a panel of medical experts from the Augusta University, UGA Medical Partnership for a discussion about the COVID-19 vaccine’s benefits, and why our community should consider getting vaccinated. Drs. Jean Chin, Nick Fox, John Francis and Farris Johnson joined us from their homes and workplaces outside of their workday to share in this conversation.

FAQs

We realize that there are likely many additional questions and concerns. Please note that the FAQs will be updated as clarifying information becomes available.

If you have valid reasons for not meeting the January 4, 2022 deadline to receive your final vaccination dose – either their second dose of a two-dose vaccine (e.g.: Pfizer or Moderna), or single dose of a single-dose vaccine (e.g.: Johnson & Johnson) – (such as delayed notification of your status as a covered contractor employee or following the advice of a medical professional regarding the appropriate vaccination regimen for your circumstances) and you are acting in good faith to become fully vaccinated as soon as reasonably possible, then a short delay beyond the January 4, 2022 deadline would not result in disciplinary action.

Covered contractor employees who do not want to get vaccinated may be eligible for a disability, medical, or religious accommodation/exemption. Covered employees who do not receive an accommodation/exemption and do not comply with the requirement will be subject to the University’s usual workplace processes, including a period of counseling and education, followed by progressive discipline, consistent with the University’s enforcement of other workplace policies.

Yes. There are a number of circumstances in which the CDC recommends delaying vaccination for COVID-19. Please see the Task Force guidance FAQs on Vaccination and Safety Protocols here, as well as the CDC site on Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines. If you believe that you have a circumstance that warrants a delay in receiving vaccination, you can submit a request for a temporary medical exception through University Human Resources here. Please note that the temporary medical exception request form requires documentation from a health care provider. And remember that during the period in which vaccination is delayed, you must follow applicable masking and physical distancing protocols for not fully vaccinated individuals.

The vaccine mandate arises from the University’s federal covered contracts, subcontracts, and cooperative agreements, which are distinct from grants. Importantly, however, the federal Task Force guidance requires a very broad interpretation of the employees who work on or in connection with (in support of) federal contracts, subcontracts, and cooperative agreements. The same guidance also requires a very broad interpretation of the covered contractor workplaces on our campuses to which the mandate applies. For this reason, you may be subject to the mandate even if you only work on grants or do not participate in research projects at all.

The federal Task Force defines covered contractor workplaces as locations controlled by the University at which any employee working on or in connection with a covered contract is likely to be present during the period of performance for a covered contract. The federal Task Force’s guidance also includes other facilities on a campus unless the University can affirmatively determine that employees from the other facilities will not come into contact with covered contractor employees. However, an employee’s residence is never a covered contractor workplace, even if the employee works remotely.

You will be notified if you are required to be vaccinated because you work in a covered contractor workplace. 

The five accepted forms of proof of verification are:

  1. A copy of the record of immunization from a healthcare provider or pharmacy.
  2. A copy of the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card (CDC Form MLS-319813_r, published on September 3, 2020).
  3. A copy of medical records documenting the vaccination.
  4. A copy of immunization records from a public health or State immunization information system [for example, the Georgia Immunization Registry (GRITS)]. 
  5. A copy of any other official documentation verifying vaccination with information on the vaccine name, date(s) of administration, and the name of health care professional or clinic site administering vaccine.

Please be sure the content of your file (such as a picture of the document) is clear and easy to read. 

Human Resources (HR) will review and decide on your exemption request in accordance with HR’s normal process for considering exemptions and accommodations. HR will contact you if additional information is needed in connection with your request and will notify you when a decision is made. Information on appealing the denial of an exemption can be found on the HR website or by contacting HR at (706) 542-2222.

Pursuant to the federal Task Force guidance, an employee who has an exemption request denied should take steps to promptly become fully vaccinated.

You should continue to work while your exemption request is processed. If you are not fully vaccinated, you must comply with the Task Force guidance and applicable CDC guidance, which currently requires that individuals who are not fully vaccinated must: (1) wear masks while inside University covered workplaces and in crowded outdoor settings on campus, and (2) physically distance to the extent practicable when inside covered workplaces.

No. While the UHC is providing free vaccines to all eligible members of the campus community, it is not staffed to provide full services to the entire campus community—just students, who fund the UHC with their student fees. Therefore, you need to have your questions answered when you arrive at the UHC for your appointment. This enables the vaccination process to continue working smoothly and efficiently for everyone. To find out more about the vaccines, watch this webinar, in which faculty from our own AU/UGA Medical Partnership answer common questions; consult our online FAQs; talk with your local medical provider; or contact the Department of Public Health. Once you have made your decision to be vaccinated, you may click here to schedule your free appointment at the UHC.  Walk-ups are not accepted.

Beginning January 4, 2022, faculty and staff who would like to schedule a COVID vaccine appointment at the University Health Center may do so by calling 706-542-5575. Also beginning January 4, 2022, the UHC will only offer Pfizer vaccines for first, second and booster doses. Providers offering Moderna or J&J (Janssen) can be found at vaccines.gov/search.

You will be notified if you are a covered contractor employee. The federal Task Force guidance defines a covered contractor employee as any University employee (including part-time employees and student employees) who either (i) works on a federal covered contract, (ii) works in connection with (or in support of) a federal covered contract, or (iii) works in a covered contractor workplace.

The federal Task Force defines this as work performed by employees who perform duties necessary to the performance of the covered contract, but who are not directly engaged in performing the specific work called for by the covered contract, including but not limited to human resources, billing, and legal review.

You will be notified if you are required to be vaccinated because you work in a covered contractor workplace. The federal Task Force defines this as a location controlled by the University at which any employee working on or in connection with a covered contract is likely to be present during the period of performance for a covered contract. The federal Task Force’s definition of a covered contractor workplace includes other facilities on a campus unless the University can affirmatively determine that employees from the other facilities will not come into contact with the employees from the covered contractor workplaces. A covered contractor workplace does not include a covered contractor employee’s residence.

The Task Force guidance provides that covered employees who communicate to the University that they cannot comply with the vaccination requirement because of a disability (which would include medical conditions) or because of a sincerely held religious belief may be exempted from the vaccination requirement. 

If you would like to request an exemption from the vaccination requirement because of a disability (which would include medical conditions), please click here.

If you would like to request an exemption from the vaccination requirement because of a sincerely held religious belief, please click here.

The Task Force guidance requires employees and visitors to comply with current CDC guidance regarding mask-wearing and physical distancing while in covered contractor workplaces. Additional details regarding the applicable CDC guidelines given current level of community transmission will be shared in the coming days through updated signage at entrances to University facilities and other means. This guidance may change over time based on community transmission levels in each location where our campuses are located.

Signage at the entrance to buildings will indicate whether the building is a covered contractor workplace. If a building is a covered contractor workplace, then classrooms in that building are subject to the requirements regarding mask-wearing and physical distancing. This means that individuals, including students, who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks and physically distance to the extent practicable while in the classroom; fully vaccinated individuals must wear masks during times when the level of community transmission of COVID-19 is high or substantial (and for two weeks following a drop from substantial to moderate). Physically distancing to the extent practicable means, in a classroom setting, spreading out within the classroom to maximize the available space. Remember that requirements regarding mask-wearing and physical distancing are subject to change by location and will be communicated through signage as well as coronavirus.uga.edu and regular communications to the University community.

The vaccine requirement does not apply to all students—but it does apply to those students who are employed at the University (e.g., student workers, graduate research and teaching assistants, etc.) if they are considered covered contractor employees. You will be notified if you are a covered contractor employee.

  • The Moderna vaccine consists of two shots administered four weeks apart. For that reason, you should have your first dose by December 7 and your second by January 4, 2022 in order to meet the Federal deadline.
  • The Pfizer vaccine also consists of two shots, but the doses are administered three weeks apart. Therefore, you have until December 14 to have your first dose and until January 4, 2022 to have the second in order to meet the Federal deadline.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine consists of a single dose. Therefore, you have until January 4, 2022 to be vaccinated with J&J in order to meet the Federal deadline.

No, not at this time. Fully vaccinated is defined as being two weeks past the final dose of a vaccine. In the case of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, two doses are required, but Johnson & Johnson requires only one dose. For all three vaccines, the final dose must be received on or before January 4, 2022 to meet the Federal deadline.


Requirements of the Federal Executive Order & Task Force Guidance

The Task Force Guidance and the new clause in our federal contracts include the following requirements:

1. Vaccination Requirement for Covered Employees

Vaccination will be required of covered contractor employees, which includes any University employee (including part-time employees and student employees), who work on or in connection with a federal contract or who work in a covered contractor workplace, as those terms are broadly defined by the federal government.

  • This requirement does not apply to all students—but it does apply to students who have employment status at the University (e.g., student workers, graduate research and teaching assistants, etc.) if they are considered covered employees.
  • Covered employees who are not currently fully vaccinated must, with few exceptions, must receive their final vaccination dose – either their second dose of a two-dose vaccine (e.g.: Pfizer or Moderna), or single dose of a single-dose vaccine (e.g.: Johnson & Johnson) – by January 4, 2022.
    • Those receiving the Moderna vaccine must have received their first dose by December 7.
    • Those receiving the Pfizer vaccine must have received their first dose by December 14.
    • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine consists of a single dose. Therefore, those opting for the J&J vaccine have until January 4, 2022 to be vaccinated.
    • Covered employees, including employees who have already been vaccinated, will be required to submit proof of vaccination, so be sure to retain your documentation. Details regarding this process are forthcoming.

2. Mask Wearing and Physical Distancing for Employees, Students and Visitors

Employees and visitors must comply with current CDC guidance regarding mask‑wearing and physical distancing while in covered contractor workplaces. Again, given the federal government’s broad interpretation of what constitutes a covered workplace, this requirement will likely apply to many areas of our campuses.

Additional detail regarding the applicable CDC guidelines given our current level of community transmission will be shared in the coming days through updated signage at entrances to University facilities and other means. This guidance may change over time based on community transmission levels. Initially, in the classroom setting, we will be asking that faculty and students distance to the extent practicable, though we understand that this may not be feasible in many classes.

Exemptions to the above requirements may be available for covered employees who communicate to the University that they cannot comply with the vaccination or mask-wearing requirements because of a disability (which would include medical conditions) or because of a sincerely held religious belief. More information regarding the exemption process will be communicated in the coming days.

Read the ArchNews from October 26, 2021.