Illinois Governor’s vaccine mandate does not apply to university employees

Jackson+County+Health+Department+worker%2C+Frank+Saunders%2C+administers+the+Pfizer-Moderna+COVID-19+vaccination+to+Abigail+Moberly%2C+a+Carbondale+local%2C+Thursday%2C+Feb.+11%2C+2021%2C+in+Carbondale%2C+Ill.+%E2%80%9CThey+said+it%E2%80%99s+not+bad.+They+said+it+doesn%E2%80%99t+even+feel+like+you+get+a+shot%2C+ya+know%3F+That+your+arm+is+sore+and+that%E2%80%99s+about+it%2C%E2%80%9D+Moberly+said.

James B Allen |@skyclopsphotojamboree

Jackson County Health Department worker, Frank Saunders, administers the Pfizer-Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to Abigail Moberly, a Carbondale local, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, in Carbondale, Ill. “They said it’s not bad. They said it doesn’t even feel like you get a shot, ya know? That your arm is sore and that’s about it,” Moberly said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced at an August 4 press conference that some groups of state employees working in “congregant living facilities” will be required to get vaccinated by Oct 4, 2021.

“Our most vulnerable residents such as veterans who can’t live on their own, and adults living with developmental disabilities have no choice but to live amongst these workers,” Pritzker said. “By and large residents of these state run facilities have done what they can do to protect themselves by getting vaccinated.”

The mandate, announced in an Aug. 4 press conference, does not apply to public university employees, like university housing staff that work in student living facilities, Governor’s Office Press Secretary Jordan Abudayyeh confirmed in an email. 

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“Our state agencies will continue to make the vaccine readily available for employees, including posting vaccination drives, at work sites and offering paid time off for receiving the vaccine,” Pritzker said. 

 

Kim Renfeld, the executive director of university communications and marketing, said in an email Southern Illinois University at Carbondale’s (SIU-C) current COVID safety precautions, which include a requirement for everyone on campus to wear masks and the “Protect the Pack” vaccination incentive programs, are still both in line with state and Centers for Disease Control Guidelines. 

“There are cases rising across the country and our area, and you’ll notice the map of the CDC has said our area’s one of high transmission,” Renfeld said in a phone interview. “That makes the need for vaccination all the more urgent, so we’re going to continue to promote vaccination.”

According to the Chancellor Vaccination Survey conducted between July 13 and July 23, just over 20 percent of students that responded were not yet vaccinated, and 19 percent of students that responded did not indicate they would be vaccinated before the start of the fall 2021 semester. 

In addition, 10 percent of SIU employees have indicated they don’t plan to be vaccinated before the start of classes. 

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According to comments in the survey, many people are not being vaccinated because they were already infected with COVID. 

Numerous other comments indicate students are worried they are more likely to die as a result of vaccination than infection from the virus. 

“COVID kind of keeps throwing us some curveballs,” Renfeld said. “We’re going to respond as we need to, and do what we need to do.”

Staff reporter Jason Flynn can be reached at [email protected], by phone at 872-222-7821 or on Twitter at @dejasonflynn. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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