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Published January 15, 2022
The University of Wyoming is working to comply with a federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate for its units that serve Medicaid and Medicare patients, following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday.
Employees of the units affected by the ruling -- including UW’s family medicine residency centers in Casper and Cheyenne; the Albany Community Health Clinic in Laramie; the Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic; and the Student Health Service -- will receive emails next week directing them how to comply with the requirement.
The Supreme Court upheld the federal vaccination mandate for health care workers in facilities participating in Medicare and/or Medicaid. The court rejected an Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandate for businesses employing over 100 people.
The mandate for health care employees does not allow for them to submit to weekly COVID tests in lieu of vaccination. It does, however, provide for religious and medical exemptions. Details on how to qualify and apply for exemptions will be included in the communications to the affected UW employees.
UW continues to strongly encourage but not require COVID-19 vaccinations for almost all employees and students who aren’t part of the university’s health care clinic staffs. A third federal mandate -- for employees of federal contractors -- has been stayed in the federal court system. All three were challenged in court by Wyoming and other states.
UW’s actions are in line with a bill passed by the Wyoming Legislature, and signed by Gov. Mark Gordon, allowing UW and other entities that would lose federal funding by not requiring employee vaccinations to go ahead and require them. But if courts grant injunctions or stays to block the federal mandates, UW and the other state entities won’t implement them while the court cases continue.
The only existing COVID-19 vaccination requirement is for employees of UW’s Early Care and Education Center, who must be fully vaccinated or be tested weekly for the infection. There are religious and medical exemptions for those employees.