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UArizona mandating COVID shots for employees

Conflicts with Governor’s order
Posted at 6:45 PM, Oct 15, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona’s Governor has forbidden vaccine mandates for state employees, but the University of Arizona is requiring COVID vaccines for all University employees anyway.

It boils down to money — millions of dollars in grants and contracts UArizona gets from the Federal government. The White House says any employer who gets Federal contracts has to make sure employees get the COVID vaccine.

For UArizona that money covers a wide variety of jobs and projects, like NASA’s funding for the Osiris Rex mission to bring an asteroid sample to Earth.

UArizona has a huge impact on Tucson. The University estimates it has about 16 thousand people on its payroll. They’ll all have to prove they've been vaccinated unless they’re granted a medical or religious exemption.

University Spokesperson Holly Jensen says with millions of dollars at stake the University had to abide by the Federal order even if it conflicts with Governor Ducey’s order against vaccine mandates.

“I believe that he understands that these universities, the lifeblood is these federal contracts that affect our research, our employment and our education systems, we worked really closely with our Board of Regents, and with the governor's office to ensure that we were falling within the mandate federally, and to make sure that we were following all of the wishes here in the state of Arizona.”

Olivia Cavazos is a student who also works for UA so the mandate applies to her. She says she was vaccinated long ago and supports a mandate now.

“I’d rather everyone be vaccinated than have the possibility of people getting sick and not complying with their mask mandate, because that has happened before.”

As a student who is not also working for the University, Mary Heisler would not be under the vaccine mandate. She did get the vaccine and she’s happy faculty and staff will be getting the shot.

“Because the faculty are exposed to students and it's probably a good idea because you're protecting them at the same time. So if you're paying so much for a professor you want them to be safe.”

University Spokesperson Holly Jensen thinks a lot of University faculty and staff are vaccinated already. To comply with the mandate University employees will have to upload proof of vaccination by December 8th.

The University’s Human Resources Department is still working on what consequences could be for employers who do not comply with the mandate. It’s looking for guidance from the Federal government on what to do in that case.