UT Austin no longer enforcing federal contractors to get COVID-19 vaccine

Texas

FILE – In this Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 file photo, a nurse loads a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As of Wednesday, the University of Texas at Austin is no longer enforcing federal contractors to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

This comes after a federal judge in Georgia this week blocked enforcement of President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring federal employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The university explained the president’s order was the legal authority compelling the school to require vaccination for employees working under its impacted federal contracts, but now that legal authority is no longer valid.

The university will be falling back to Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order, which bans vaccine mandates.

Before the federal judge barred enforcement of the president’s mandate nationwide, UT said it would enforce vaccine requirements for federal employees but would not fire employees for refusing to be vaccinated.

“While certain federal contracts require universities to mandate vaccines for employees working under these contracts, UT System institutions will always grant exceptions when warranted and will not terminate employees for refusing to be vaccinated,” said the university system in a Tuesday statement.

Abbott’s office sent KXAN a statement on Monday calling the mandate a constitutional overstep and vowed to work with the state attorney general to fight the order. You can read the full statement below.

“Governor Abbott continues hearing from countless Texans who are worried about losing their jobs because of this federal overreach. With both OSHA and CMS’s vaccine mandates recently halted in Texas, it’s clear that the courts agree that the Biden Administration is overstepping their constitutional authority and attempting to trample Americans’ right to choose for themselves whether to get vaccinated. Having spent his entire time in office fighting for the rights and freedoms of all Texans, the Governor will not abandon Texans worried about putting food on the table, and our office is working with the Office of the Attorney General to continue that fight.”

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