Federal vaccine mandate could soon impact UNC Wilmington

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 6:53 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - President Biden’s executive order to mandate vaccines for anyone working on, or in connection with, a federal contract could soon impact employees on UNC Wilmington’s campus.

The executive order goes into effect on December 8th, but there is no set date for when those at UNCW would need to get a COVID-19 shot. For UNCW the mandate would apply mainly to those in research and innovation.

“We’re looking very carefully at the regulation itself and evaluating what we have — what projects we might have that are subject to this regulation — and looking at how we would be implementing it, if and when we have that,” said Stuart Borrett, Assistant Provost for Research and Innovation.

Right now UNCW’s federal contracts don’t fall under this mandate. Borrett said that once the handful of contracts are renewed or extended, which could be by the end of this year, then the vaccine mandate will apply to them.

“Sponsored projects from the federal government that come in the form of a cooperative agreement, where we’re doing work with the federal government, related mostly to research and innovation efforts at the university. So these are larger projects that would be subject to this particular regulation,” Borrett said.

Borrett added that UNCW has about a 90% vaccination rate for faculty and staff and just below 80% for residential students, so he does not believe that the mandate will be difficult to implement.

“The university community responded positively to that, and that creates a safer work environment. And that’s the whole point of the executive order, is to create a safer work environment for everybody,” Borrett said. “The requirement is to be vaccinated as you are working on the project or to have a clear exemption with regular testing. That’s not very far from the current university policy, there’s a little difference, but it’s not too far from the current policy, so I don’t think it would be too challenging to implement.”

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