University complying with federal requirements; all employees required to be vaccinated

Published: October 22, 2021

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This message pertains to new federal requirements regarding COVID-19 vaccines. These requirements raise issues of significant national interest and may become subject to legal challenges. In this fluid and fast-moving environment, Auburn will continue to monitor and respond to relevant legal developments and will communicate updates if necessary.

President Biden issued Executive Order 14042 on Sept. 9, 2021, requiring that federal contractors provide adequate COVID-19 safeguards for their workforce. The Order and the subsequent Sept. 24 Guidance outline the broad applicability and scope of required workplace safety protocols for a federal contractor’s workforce. One of the workplace safety protocols included in the federal requirement is COVID-19 vaccination of covered contractor employees.

As a public research institution, Auburn is among hundreds of U.S. universities considered to be federal contractors. Currently, Auburn maintains approximately $200 million in federal contracts that are expected to be impacted by this Order, including contracts with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), among others. Federal contracts are also a major revenue source for communities across Alabama—this is one way tax dollars paid to the federal government come back to the state to benefit all Alabamians. In fiscal year 2020, Alabama contractors were awarded approximately $12 billion from 98,147 federal contracts or subcontracts.

Auburn University’s mission includes a commitment to improving the lives of the people of Alabama through life-enhancing research. To sustain and advance the university’s research enterprise, Auburn is compelled to comply with the Executive Order and the Guidance to the extent that those have been incorporated into our federal contracts. Those contracts include the requirement that covered employees be vaccinated for COVID-19.

To ensure that Auburn can certify compliance with current and future federal contracts, the university’s vaccine policy has been modified to require that all Auburn employees must be fully vaccinated no later than Dec. 8, 2021, except in limited circumstances where an employee is legally entitled to a medical or religious accommodation. An individual is fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series, or two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine. This policy applies to all full-time and part-time employees (including those working remotely), undergraduate and graduate student employees and TES employees at Auburn University, Auburn University at Montgomery, the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

Employees who are not already fully vaccinated will need to start the vaccination process by the dates listed below to be able to achieve full vaccination by the Dec. 8 deadline.

  • Moderna: First dose by Oct. 27, 2021, and second dose by Nov. 24, 2021.
  • Pfizer: First dose by Nov. 3, 2021, and second dose by Nov. 24, 2021.
  • Johnson & Johnson: Dose needed by Nov. 24, 2021.

By Dec. 8, all employees must submit proof of full vaccination or receive an exemption. Failure to comply with this policy constitutes a Group I offense. Employees who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8, 2021, are subject to termination, in accordance with applicable university policies.

Further guidance and more information, including FAQs, are available on the COVID-19 Resource Center website.